Being arrested and charged with a DUI or felony DUI in Illinois is a serious charge, and if you are actually convicted of a DUI, you may face very severe consequences, including time in jail, a large fine, attendance at an alcohol education class, the loss of your license, and much more. Here is some important information you need to know about DUIs and DUI felonies in Illinois:
What is a DUI in Illinois?
Whether or not having alcohol in your blood while operating a motor vehicle is illegal is based on your age, your occupation, and the percentage of alcohol in your system. As explained by the Illinois Secretary of State 2017 DUI Fact Book, the limits for each of the following are:
- Drivers under age 21 – .00 percent;
- School bus drivers – .00 percent;
- Commercial drivers – .04 percent; and
- All other drivers age 21 or older – .08 percent.
However, DUI (driving under the influence) is not affected by alcohol alone. A DUI is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or any other drug or intoxicating compound. This means that a person can be charged with a DUI if they are high on marijuana or another drug, or/and have a BAC above the limits listed above.
DUI Arrests in Illinois.
In order for an officer to stop a vehicle, they must have reasonable suspicion, and in order to make a DUI arrest, they must have probable cause. This means that there is evidence for the police officer to reasonably believe that a crime (DUI) has been committed. In order to obtain probable cause, an officer may ask you to participate in a blood or breath alcohol test or perform a field sobriety test. As long as probable cause exists, even if you refuse testing, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test.
Illinois implied consent laws require that you consent to a blood or breath alcohol test if required to do so. While you have the right to refuse this testing, doing so will have consequences. In fact, a refusal to take a requested BAC test will automatically result in a one-year license suspension, even if you are not actually convicted of the DUI. It is important to remember that refusing to submit to a DUI test does not mean that you will not still be arrested and convicted, although it does mean that the prosecution will not have absolute proof that you were intoxicated.
Felony DUI in Illinois
Most DUI convictions are misdemeanors, but there are some situations where a DUI may be charged as a felony. When you are charged with a felony DUI in Illinois, it is known as an aggravated DUI. You will automatically be charged with an aggravated/felony DUI when the DUI is your third (Class 2 felony), fourth (Class 2 felony), fifth (Class 1 felony), or sixth or subsequent DUI conviction (Class X felony). A DUI offense will also be considered a felony when:
- The DUI is committed by a school bus driver carrying at least one underage passenger;
- The DUI results in significant harm to another;
- The DUI results in harm to a child;
- The DUI is committed by a driver without liability insurance;
- The DUI is committed within a school zone;
- The DUI results in death;
- The DUI is committed by a person with a revoked or suspended license;
- The DUI is committed by a person who has previously been convicted of reckless homicide; or
- The DUI is committed by a driver who is operating a for-hire vehicle carrying any passengers.
If you are facing DUI or felony DUI charges, you need to learn more ASAP.