In Illinois, drunk driving charges are misdemeanor offenses, but in certain circumstances, a DUI charge can be charged as a felony charge. Facing DUI criminal charges is troubling because a DUI conviction might follow you for the rest of your life. Having any type of criminal record regardless of your age can cause a driver's license suspension, expulsion from school and it can affect your ability to get into college, qualify for financial aid and student loans, renting an apartment, auto insurance, and affect your future employment opportunities. However, a felony conviction carries more severe consequences than a misdemeanor conviction. Felony DUI offenses are punishable by a year or more in jail.
An arrest for a felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs charge is distressing, and without the right support and information, you may feel overwhelmed. If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence charge, contact the experienced DUI criminal defense attorneys at Ktenas Law today at (312) 756-8652 for a free initial consultation.
If you have a previous DUI conviction, state laws vary in how many DUI convictions and in what period of time these convictions can justify a felony DUI charge. Some states enhance the sentence for a drunk driving charge within the past five years, some 10 years, and in some states for any prior conviction regardless of how long ago it was.
If your driving license privileges have been restricted in the past because of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and you're caught driving while impaired again, you may be charged with a felony DUI charge. For instance, if you have been ordered to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on your car because of a previous DUI conviction, and you're pulled over for drunken driving again, you may face a felony criminal charge.
In most states, including Illinois, if a drunk driver kills or injures someone, he or she is charged with felony charges. Thus, if a driver causes a motor vehicle accident that results in bodily harm, this is a Class 4 felony offense, which is punishable by 1-3 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.
If you run a stop sign while impaired and hit another motor vehicle, you may be charged with a felony DUI charge if the passengers in your vehicle or people in the other vehicle are injured. However, it's less likely that your charge will be elevated to a felony criminal charge if you were intoxicated but another driver rear-ended you at a stop sign and you or other people were injured in the car accident.
Breaking Traffic Laws and Driving With a Suspended Driver's License
In some states, if you're arrested for drunk driving while breaking other traffic laws can cause the DUI charge can be elevated to a felony charge. For instance, in some jurisdictions, if you're driving with a suspended driver's license and are arrested for intoxicated driving, the criminal offense can be considered a felony DUI. Thus, if your driver's license is restricted, suspended, or revoked, you may face stiffer penalties if you're arrested for intoxicated driving.
High-Level Blood-Alcohol Content
In Illinois, the standard for intoxication is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. This means that a higher blood alcohol content can result in a harsher punishment, especially when you're convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense. Further, the higher your blood alcohol level, the worse the criminal penalty will be.
In Illinois, if you're caught driving while impaired with a child under the age of 16 years in the vehicle, your sentence will be severe, even if it's your own child. For instance, a first DUI charge while transporting a minor in your car that results in bodily injury is considered a Class 4 felony aggravated DUI charge, which carries a sentence of 1-3 years in jail and a maximum fine of $25,000. Further, a second DUI conviction while transporting a minor younger than 16 years in your car is a Class 2 felony offense, which carries a sentence of 3-7 years in jail and a maximum fine of $25,000.
What are the Consequences of a Felony DUI?
DUI laws vary from state to state, and new laws are passed every year. Thus, if you're charged with a felony DUI, you'll need an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer, who depending on the facts of your DUI case, may try to reduce your sentence or get your charges dismissed.
Besides the heavy fines and mandatory jail time, if you're charged with a felony DUI you may lose:
Driving privileges temporarily or permanently.
Civil rights, including the right to own a weapon or the right to vote.
Custody or visitation privileges, especially if you were transporting a child in your car.
Also, most states, including Illinois, have drunk driving laws that require any person convicted of drunk driving to undergo an alcohol/drug evaluation. A counselor will assess you to determine whether your drinking behavior can be considered alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse.
How Can a Felony DUI Attorney Help?
A felony DUI conviction is life-changing. This type of DUI conviction comes with the possibility of a lengthy prison term. Further, the stigma of being a convicted felon can prevent you from getting a job and moving forward with your life after you’ve served your prison sentence. You may lose your driving privileges permanently with no recourse to getting your driver's license back, which also can have a negative impact on your life and your livelihood.
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you need an experienced Chicago felony DUI attorney by your side. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can avoid a DUI conviction and the resulting consequences. A skilled DUI criminal defense lawyer can help you get your charges reduced so that the consequences of a drunk driving conviction are minimized.
At Ktenas Law, our experienced Chicago DUI defense attorneys have a proven track record of helping DUI offenders fight felony DUI charges, keep a clean driving record, and protect their driving privileges. Our drunk driver defense team has decades of legal experience and we can help you beat your DUI charges.
Our legal team has a detailed understanding of all facets of the process of felony DUI cases and how to craft an effective defense to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. We understand what’s at stake for you and will fight aggressively to get the best probable outcome for your DUI case.
To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our criminal defense law firm today at (312) 756-8652, or chat with us online to learn how we can help. During your appointment, you’ll receive an honest evaluation of your case, an explanation of what to expect from the legal process and learn what Ktenas Law can do to help you fight your felony DUI charges.