A Springfield Illinois driver struck and killed a bicyclist and then fled the scene. Police eventually determined that Ursula Jones was the driver and located her. At that point, they suspected she may have been drinking and/or using drugs. Therefore, they drew blood from her, to be analyzed later at the police lab.
Not knowing what the lab results would show, police initially charged Jones with leaving the scene of a crash involving death. Such a charge is a Class 1 felony upon conviction. Such a conviction does not require proof that the driver was intoxicated or was even at fault but merely that she left the scene of a crash involving death. The offender is eligible for probation, thus avoiding prison time. A conviction results in a driver’s license revocation.
The blood test results showed that Jones had a BAC greater than the legal limit of .08 and had drugs in her system. Therefore, the state filed aggravated DUI charges against her.
Aggravated DUI requires proof that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and that her intoxicated state caused a crash in which someone was killed or seriously injured. Aggravated DUI is a Class 2 felony, a lower level felony than leaving the scene.
However, unless the judge finds that “extraordinary circumstances” exist, probation is not an option if the crash resulted in death. The term of imprisonment is no less than 3 years and no greater than 14 years. If two or more people were killed, the term of imprisonment would have been 6 to 28 years. In the event of a conviction, the Secretary of State is required to revoke the offender’s driver’s license.
Ordinarily, if you are convicted of an DUI charge in Illinois, the waiting period for a driver’s license reinstatement hearing is one year. However, you cannot have a hearing following a conviction for aggravated DUI involving death until you have been out of prison or jail for two years.
Another weapon that has been available to Illinois prosecutors in the past in fatal crash cases was to charge the accused of reckless homicide. However, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the reckless homicide statute is unconstitutional.