All drunk driving charges are not created equally. For example, some DUI charges are misdemeanors and others are felonies. Misdemeanor DUI charges, while still serious, result in fewer penalties including less fines and overall shorter jail sentences. Felony charges, on the other hand, are very serious and can result in long sentences, loss of drivers’ licenses and heavy fines.
In Illinois, DUI charges are escalated to felonies in several situations. If a DUI arrest isn’t the person’s first DUI, charges can be upgraded. Charges can also be upgraded to felonies when someone is hurt as a result of the drunk driving. Furthermore, charges can be upgraded to felonies when the person accused of DUI was driving without insurance or valid drivers’ license.
In a recent case, a 21-year-old woman has been charged with felony DUI involving a death after she supposedly hit a pedestrian. According to police, the accident occurred near O’Hare International Airport. Police say a man had run out of gas and was stopped by the side of the road waiting for a friend to bring fuel.
The woman was driving on this same road when, police allege, she swerved onto the shoulder in an attempt to pass a slower moving car. On the shoulder she hit the man’s car and then the man. The man was killed on the scene.
According to police, the woman’s breath smelled of alcohol at the scene. However, she refused to take a blood alcohol test. In addition to the DUI charges, the woman was also ticketed for illegally transporting alcohol and for driving without insurance.
While a felony conviction in a case like this may result in increased penalties, it cannot be secured unless prosecutors are able to prove a person’s blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. By challenging evidence about a person’s BAC, those facing DUI charges have the best possible chance at avoiding long-term consequences.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Romeoville woman charged with DUI in fatal O’Hare crash,” Jason Meisner, March 25, 2013