Under Illinois DUI law, whether a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends in part on whether any enhancing factors exist such as whether the defendant committed any prior violations of the DUI statute. While the Supreme Court of Illinois has definitively stated a previous conviction of the DUI is not necessary to prove a defendant committed a violation, it has not defined the scope of what evidence is admissible to establish a violation. While it is not precedential, in State v. Hastey the Maine Supreme Court recently held that extrinsic evidence outside of a DUI charge or conviction is admissible as evidence of an enhancing factor in charging a defendant with an aggravated DUI. If you face DUI charges and were previously charged with DUI, an experienced Illinois DUI attorney can help you determine what evidence the state may attempt to introduce against you and assist you in formulating a defense.
Facts of the Case
Purportedly, in Hastey, the defendant was charged with aggravated criminal OUI. Under Maine law, a person commits aggravated criminal OUI if he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants and has a prior criminal homicide conviction resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants.
The state alleged the defendant’s manslaughter conviction in 1991 was the enhancing factor needed to fulfill the requirements of the aggravated charge. The defendant filed a motion in limine to suppress evidence that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident for which he was convicted of manslaughter. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and the state appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Maine overturned the trial court order and remanded for an entry denying the defendant’s motion.
Maine Supreme Court Ruling
The defendant argued that because he was not tried for OUI due to his prior accident, and his prior conviction did not establish that he was under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the accident, the state could not introduce any evidence that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The defendant argued that to allow the state to present such evidence would be akin to re-trying him on the prior charges, which would constitute double jeopardy. The court did not find the defendant’s arguments to be persuasive. Instead, the court held that the state was not limited to the face of the defendant’s prior indictment and conviction, but could introduce extrinsic evidence of the defendant’s intoxication at the time of the manslaughter beyond his indictment and conviction.
Illinois Law Regarding Enhancing Factors for Conviction of DUI
Similar to Maine, the Illinois DUI laws allow the state to charge a defendant with aggravated DUI for a variety of enhancing factors. The statue that sets forth the factors does not state a defendant must have been convicted for any of the prior violations; rather it merely says that the defendant must have “committed” the violation. In People v. Sheehan, the Illinois Supreme court interpreted the language of the statute to allow charges resulting in supervision rather than a conviction as sufficient evidence of aggravation when imposing punishment for later convictions.
Consult a Knowledgeable Illinois DUI Attorney Today
If you are charged with a DUI, it is important to understand how prior charges may affect your current charges. You should consult a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances regarding your arrest and set forth a plan to help you obtain a favorable outcome. Harvatin Law Offices, PC vigorously defends individuals charged with DUI throughout Illinois. Contact our office at 217.525.0520, to schedule a consultation.
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