DUI laws can often be confusing at first glance. If you’ve recently been charged with a DUI, you may be struggling to wrap your head around the different types of offenses and penalties. And this can add stress to an already stressful time in your life.
Your first instinct may be to jump to the worst-case scenario and ask: is a DUI a felony in Illinois? But the answer is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no.
Luckily, we have the information you need to better understand DUI laws in Illinois and the different penalties they come with.
DUI Illinois Law Explained
Before getting into the specifics of Illinois’ DUI laws, it’s helpful to understand how Illinois defines a DUI.
There are several different acronyms that can be applied to drunk or intoxicated driving situations. The three most common acronyms used are:
- DWI – Driving While Intoxicated
- DUI – Driving Under the Influence
- OWI – Operating While Intoxicated
In Illinois, the most common acronym used is DUI. You can be convicted of a DUI in Illinois if you’re found driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.1 However, if your ability to drive is at all impaired, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with a DUI.1 This is because driving while under the influence of medical cannabis and other drugs can also warrant a DUI charge in Illinois.1
A law enforcement officer will determine your BAC and driving impairment through a field sobriety test. Illinois has implied consent laws in place, meaning that if you’re suspected of driving under the influence and refuse a blood or breath test, you will be subject to penalties, which can include license suspension, reduced driving privilege, and potential fines.2
Illinois DUI laws are structured around the number of DUI charges a person was given previously. In other words, if this is your first DUI offense, the penalties will be less severe than if it’s your third.
Felony DUI in Illinois: What You Need to Know
Now that we’ve discussed Illinois’ DUI laws and their structure, we’ll explain how many DUIs is a felony in Illinois.
Here is how Illinois law defines each DUI occurrence3:
- First DUI – Class A misdemeanor
- Second DUI – Class A misdemeanor (generally)
- Third DUI – Class 2 felony
So, only after receiving three DUIs will a DUI be considered a felony. It’s also important to note that in Illinois, DUI charges are never removed from your record—so if you’ve received two charges at any point in time and are charged with a third DUI, it will be considered a class 2 felony.3
Penalties for Felony DUI in Illinois
Because a felony DUI is received after being previously charged with multiple DUIs, the penalties are more severe than if it were your first DUI.
After any DUI charge, you may be subject to the following penalties3:
- License suspension
- Possible jail time
For felony DUI, your license will be suspended for at least a ten-year period, and you may face fines up to $25,000.3 Jail time can be as short as ten days, with a maximum DUI conviction sentence of three to seven years, though community service can be substituted for part of the sentence.
Felony DUI is considered an aggravated DUI in Illinois, which holds more weight in terms of penalties. Some amount of jail time is required when convicted of a felony in Illinois.2
After receiving a second DUI, and for each DUI following it, you must hold a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) and use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle for five years after your license is suspended.3 With an RDP, you’re restricted to essential travel only, such as driving to work or medical appointments.
Defending Against a Felony DUI Charge
While penalties for a felony DUI charge are steep, you have options to defend yourself. Namely, it’s recommended that you do your research on the latest Illinois BAIID rules and acquire legal representation when facing a DUI charge. There are many lawyers in the state who deal specifically with DUI law and know how to best represent your case in court.
A DUI lawyer will defend your rights and ensure fairness in your legal proceedings. They may also be able to help lessen your penalties.
Trust Smart Start Ignition Interlock Devices for Your Vehicle
After receiving a felony DUI, the only way to drive your vehicle again is by using a BAIID Illinois Device. An IID is a breathalyzer that’s installed into your car’s ignition; it requires the driver to blow into it, and if their blood-alcohol content (BAC) is under 0.025, the car will start.
By exploring our website, you can learn more about how IIDs work and see the different kinds we offer.
For the most affordable and dependable IIDs, trust Smart Start. Our customer service operates every day of the year, 24/7, so that you always have the support and guidance you need. Visit one of our many Illinois installation locations today to get started.
- The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State. Driving Under the Influence (DUI). https://www.ilsos.gov/departments/drivers/traffic_safety/DUI/home.html
- HG.org. Illinois DUI Law. https://www.hg.org/dui-law-illinois.html
- DrivingLaws. Illinois DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties. https://dui.drivinglaws.org/ill.php
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