A woman from Paris, Illinois, county seat of Edgar County, faces charges of aggravated DUI. In this tragic incident, the defendant (the accused) was allegedly driving south in the northbound lane when her vehicle struck an oncoming vehicle causing a crash. As a result of the crash, two passengers on the other vehicle are dead.
In the past, the driver would have been charge with reckless homicide arising from the operation of a motor vehicle. 720 ILCS 5/9-3(b) That law provided that if a person was under the influence of alcohol and was involved in a crash that resulted in death, he was automatically guilty of reckless homicide even without the state having to prove recklessness.
In the criminal law, the state has the burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled this law violated the Constitution by impermissibly requiring the defendant to prove that he was not reckless, rather than requiring the state to prove that he was. People v. Pomykala, 203 Ill. 2d 198, 784 N.E.2d 784, 271 Ill. Dec. 230 (2003)
The General Assembly has added the offense of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)) “Aggravated” means “extreme” or “especially bad”. Aggravated DUI applies if, while you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, one or more people die and your impaired driving was a “proximate cause” of their death.. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F) Unlike the reckless homicide law that the Supreme Court held was unconstitutional, this law appears to be constitutional since it requires to state to prove that your impaired driving was the cause of the accident instead of assuming that you were reckless.
Aggravated DUI that results in death is a Class 4 felony punishable by a term of 3-14 years in prison, unless the court finds that “extraordinary circumstances exist” to require probation. However, if two or more persons die, the felony is upgraded to a Class 2 felony and the prison time becomes 6-28 years. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d((2)(G)
In addition, the offender faces enhanced driver’s license consequences from an aggravated DUI conviction. If this is your first DUI conviction, your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of at least 2 years, unless you were sentenced to jail or prison, in which case you may not apply for any type of driving relief until you have been out of prison for at least two years. 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b)1(C).; 6-103(15)
Such driving relief must be made at a formal hearing in Springfield, Chicago, Joliet or Mt. Vernon. You must also submit the following documents with the petition for driving relief: either a copy of the Order of the circuit court that states the sentence received upon conviction, certified by the Clerk of the Court, or a document from the Department of Corrections that reflects: the offense for which you were imprisoned; the date of release from imprisonment; and the terms of release or parole. 92 Illinois Administrative Code §1001.420,430
These are extremely difficult hearings. The Secretary of State is angry at you for getting drunk and killing someone. The family of the victim is angry. According to the Secretary of State rules, the family members are entitled to write letters and/or testify. 92 Illinois Administrative Code §1001.440d)(19)
Because of the seriousness with which the Secretary of State treats these hearings, you can expect his attorney to be armed with a large volume of documents and an extremely pointed and exhaustive list of questions. You must be thoroughly prepared.