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When does drunk driving become a felony in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Drunk Driving-DUI Charges

Most of the drivers arrested for drunk driving in Illinois and around the country are charged with misdemeanors, but DUI can be a felony in certain situations. In Illinois, felony drunk driving is called aggravated DUI. Drivers in Illinois can be charged with aggravated DUI if they have prior drunk driving convictions, are arrested while their license is suspended for a prior DUI, or cause accidents that result in serious injury or death.

Aggravated DUI

In some states, motorists can be charged with felony drunk driving even if they have no prior convictions if they have blood alcohol concentrations far in excess of the legal limit. In Illinois, an elevated BAC is not grounds for a felony charge. Drivers in Illinois can face felony charges DUI if they:

  • Have two or more prior DUI convictions
  • Have a single prior DUI conviction and were transporting a minor
  • Were driving without insurance or with a revoked or suspended driver’s license
  • Cause an accident that resulted in death or permanent disfigurement
  • Have a prior conviction for reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter
  • Were speeding in a school zone and caused an accident
  • Caused an accident that injured a minor
  • Were transporting one or more passengers in a vehicle for hire

Felony DUI penalties in Illinois

Drivers in Illinois convicted of aggravated DUI face mandatory jail time. Sentences can be as short as 90 days or as long as 28 years depending on the degree of the felony. Fines for aggravated DUI begin at $2,500 and can be as high as $25,000, and motorists convicted of DUI for the third time lose their driving privileges for 10 years.

The drunk driving laws in Illinois are harsh

Illinois has some of the harshest drunk driving laws in the country. Most motorists arrested for drunk driving in Illinois are charged with misdemeanors, but felony charges can be filed against drivers who cause serious accidents, drive without proper documentation or have a history of drunk driving.