Repeat DUI offenses can result in felony charges, leading to prison time, as much as 30 years in some situations. As you ask yourself, should I hire an Illinois DUI lawyer for a first offense, keep in mind the following information. It demonstrates that previous DUI offenses can come back to haunt you when the judge is deciding what sentence to impose.
If you have more than two previous DUI offenses, you may be charged with a felony. In determining whether or not you are felony eligible, both out-of -state DUI offenses, as well as DUI offenses for which you received court supervision, are included.
If you believed that supervision “does not go on my record and does not count”, you misunderstood how Illinois DUI supervision works. Supervision does not cause a driver’s license revocation and does not become part of your public driving record. However, the prosecutor, the Secretary of State, the police and the judge will be aware of it, forever. Likewise, you might be surprised to discover that an out-of-state DUI offense that is not on your Illinois record but that the state knows about because of the National Registry/ PDPS also counts when assessing the felony issue.
Regardless of the number of previous DUI offenses, a DUI also qualifies as a felony if the DUI causes death “or great bodily harm”. In addition, a DUI becomes a felony if at the time of the offense, you did not have a valid driver’s license (suspended, revoked, expired or never licensed).
If you or your vehicle were not insured at the time of the DUI, it is a felony. Also involving a felony are a DUI in which a child under the age of 16 is injured, a DUI in which an accident occurs in a school zone and a DUI while operating a school bus with children under 18 onboard. Finally, if you have a previous reckless homicide, the new DUI is a felony.
The felony sentencing provisions are complicated and depend upon a number of factors. However, you could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison in certain circumstances. In considering whether to hire an Illinois DUI lawyer for a first or second offense, keep in mind that the rights you gave up in the first or second DUI will come back to haunt you in a later DUI.