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Illinois bill would expand felony DUI provisions

Illinois law prohibits Driving Under the Influence (DUI). 625 ILCS 5/11-501 In terms of alcohol, this prohibition takes two forms.

The first form of Illinois DUI law makes it illegal to drive under the influence. In these types of case, the prosecutor must prove that as a result of consuming alcohol, the accused was impaired in his ability to operate a motor vehicle.

At times, this can be difficult to prove, despite an array of tools that the courts and General Assembly have made available to law enforcement, such as standardized field sobriety tests, the preliminary breath test, the presumption that if you refuse a test, it is evidence of a “guilty mind” and a general relaxation of a defendant’s rights under the United States and Illinois constitutions. Therefore, the DUI laws have been repeatedly altered to stack the deck even further against the defendant.

There is a second type of DUI, known as “per se” because the State does not have to prove that your driving is impaired due to alcohol. it is automatically assumed that you are guilty of DUI if the prosecutor is able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that your blood alcohol content (BAL) was .08 or higher when you were operating a motor vehicle.

There are purported safeguards built into the process to ensure that the machine that calibrates your BAL is accurate and is administered by someone properly certified by the Illinois State Police to do so. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Part 1286. These rules establish the police training, lab procedures, breath test certification and sampling protocol that relate to the breath test.

However, courts have bent over backwards to let in evidence that is not properly documented. Thus, despite the clear requirement that police maintain a log of breath test results, courts have let the police off the hook when the log cannot be produced. People v. Claudio 371 Ill. App. 3d 1067 (2007)

A first offense DUI is a Class-A misdemeanor. While it is the highest level of misdemeanor and while it is a crime, it is not a felony. But even a single DUI is subject to felony prosecution in a growing number of circumstances.

Whenever a DUI results in the death of someone, it becomes a felony. Likewise, while the sentence is less severe, a DUI that results in great bodily harm or disfigurement is a felony.

It is a felony to commit a DUI in a school zone where bodily harm results. Even if not in a school zone, If bodily harm results to a passenger under the age of 16, the offense is a felony. Committing a DUI when your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, or otherwise invalid, is a felony. Knowingly driving without insurance is a felony if a DUI is charged and proven.

At present, a school bus driver who receives a DUI with passengers under the age of 18 years commits a felony. Senate Bill 1764, as amended in the House, would remove the age requirement for a school bus, would remove the language that seems to make it applicable only if more than one person was injured and would extend the felony provision to any driver-for-hire (such as taxicabs and limousines).

Related posts:

What tools are available to the police in Illinois for proving a DUI charge? January 11, 2013, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg
Summary of requirements for admission of DUI breath tests in Illinois April 12, 2013, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg

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