In 2018, more than 26,000 people in Illinois found themselves arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). According to a report from the Secretary of State, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for those arrested was 0.16.

A high BAC reading can lead to some additional penalties and fines. But it is not just BAC that determines whether a driver might face a misdemeanor or felony charge.

When a DUI becomes a felony

Here in Illinois, any DUI offense that leads to felony charges is referred to as “aggravated” DUI. Generally speaking, a first or second DUI with no additional factors is a misdemeanor. However, when someone is a repeat offender or there are other elements involved – such as a suspended license – it may result in a felony DUI charge.

Here are some of the factors that can lead to a felony DUI:

  • A third or subsequent DUI offense
  • A DUI while you have a revoked or suspended license due to a previous DUI or reckless homicide
  • A DUI that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement
  • A DUI while you don’t have vehicle liability insurance
  • A second (or subsequent) DUI where a child under the age of 16 was in the car and injured in a crash
  • A DUI while driving a vehicle-for-hire, with at least one passenger in the car
  • A DUI if you don’t have a valid driver’s license or permit
  • A DUI if you’ve already been convicted of reckless homicide while driving under the influence or aggravated DUI involving a fatality

Consequences of aggravated DUI

The exact penalties you might face for an aggravated DUI conviction can vary, based on the type of offense and surrounding circumstances.

However, it’s important to note that when convicted of aggravated DUI, any mandatory prison sentence or community service requirement cannot be reduced or suspended. Collateral consequences – like how to drive your children to school or the impact on your career – can persist for even longer.

Just because you are arrested and accused does not mean you are guilty. Fighting the charges directly may help lessen any disruption, allowing you to get back to life as quickly as possible.