In Illinois, driving under the influence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on certain factors. A felony attracts more severe penalties than a misdemeanor, and it is crucial to be aware of the type of charges you are facing.
Generally, the first or second DUI arrest is considered a misdemeanor under Illinois law, as long as there were no aggravating factors. Thereafter, it a different ball game.
When a DUI becomes a felony
On your third and subsequent DUI arrests, things may get a bit more complicated. You could be facing felony charges which carry harsher sentences compared to misdemeanors. Possible penalties and the nature of your charges depend on prior DUI convictions. However, even a first arrest can become a felony if there are aggravating factors. These include:
- Your DUI caused death or injury to others
- Driving under the influence with a suspended license or without insurance
- Presence of children in the car when driving under the influence
It may affect your life for good
DUI cases are taken very seriously in Illinois. If your defense against the DUI charge was unsuccessful and the case resulted in a conviction, you may have to live with it. There are some jobs you cannot get with a DUI conviction, and in most instances, it is not easy to expunge or seal your record. This is why it is important to be aware of your legal rights and safeguard them, from the point of arrest to trial.
A lot is on the line, evidently, and you may need to give your DUI charges the seriousness they deserve.