What Is a Felony DUI in Illinois?

Aggravating factors that can make a drunk driving charge a felony.

By , Attorney

Illinois's DUI laws prohibit operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol, or with a specified amount of certain substances (such as marijuana or other drugs) in your system. Most DUI convictions are misdemeanor criminal offenses. But certain aggravating factors can make a DUI a felony.

Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DUI charges in Illinois.

Third DUI Conviction Is a Felony

For most first and second DUIs in Illinois, the offender will be looking at misdemeanor charges. But when an offender has two or more prior DUI convictions, the current offense generally can be charged as a class 2 felony. A conviction carries 90 days to seven years in prison (up to 14 years if the offense involves certain aggravating factors) and up to $25,000 in fines.

Common Circumstances that Lead to Felony Charges

Illinois's DUI law lists a number of circumstances that make a DUI an aggravated offense and a felony. These circumstances include:

  • Minor passengers. Though a second DUI is usually a misdemeanor, it is elevated to a class 2 felony if the driver had a passenger who was younger than 16 years old.
  • School bus drivers. School bus drivers who are caught operating a bus while under the influence can be charged with a class 4 felony.
  • Any driver who causes "great bodily harm" to another person while under the influence will be looking at class 4 felony charges.
  • Causing the death of another person while operating under the influence can be charged as a class 2 felony.
  • DUI on a suspended or revoked license. DUI offenses that occur while the driver has a suspended, revoked, or restricted license related to a prior DUI or certain other serious driving offense are class 4 felonies.
  • Transporting passengers for hire. A DUI is a class 4 felony if the driver was transporting two or more passengers for hire.
  • No insurance. If the offender knew or should have known he or she had no insurance, the offense will be a class 4 felony.

The penalties for these offenses vary. But, generally, the offender is looking at the possibility of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.

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