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Sangamon County woman sentenced to 10 years in prison following death of bicyclist

A Sangamon County judge sentenced a Springfield woman to 10 years in prison following her conviction for aggravated Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury. The 23-year old woman, Ursula Jones, pled guilty to the offenses before Circuit Court Judge Leo Zappa.

Jones admitted to striking a bicyclist and then fleeing the scene, a violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-401, which provides in part that “(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident” Failure to do so is a Class-4 felony.

A Class-4 felony is punishable by 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.00 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45; 5/5-4.5-50 Because the defendant was also convicted of aggravated DUI, the sentence for leaving the scene cannot run concurrent with the aggravated DUI conviction but must be served separately (consecutively). 730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(d)(4) Judge Zappa sentenced the defendant to 2 years for this offense.

A conviction for leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury results in a driver’s license revocation for 3 years. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(4); 6-208(b)(1) Following the revocation, the driver may apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP) through the Illinois Secretary of State 625 ILCS 5/6-205(c)(6)

In order to prevail at such a hearing, you must demonstrate that you can be a safe and responsible driver and that your inability to drive has caused undue hardship. Typically, the suspicion is that someone who flees the scene of an accident does so because he is drunk or otherwise driving illegally.

The law also requires you, even if you leave the scene, to report the accident to the police within a half hour. Any information provided in such a report cannot be used against you in a prosecution for leaving the scene.

However, failure to report an accident after leaving the scene is a Class-1 felony if there is a fatality. 625 ILCS 5/11-401(d) The punishment for a Class-1 felony is 4-15 years in prison 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30 and/or a fine of up to $25,000.00

Jones was also convicted of aggravated DUI due to the fact that her DUI resulted in a death. Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(G), this is a Class-2 felony. Ordinarily, a Class-2 felony is subject to a term of incarceration of 3-7 years and is probationable.

However, an aggravated DUI fatality is an “extended term” felony which carries a term of 3-14 years. In addition, there is no probation unless the court finds that “extraordinary circumstances” exist that require probation.

The driver’s license consequences are also more severe for aggravated DUI involving death. In that case, you cannot apply for a driver’s license until the expiration of two years following the revocation, or two years after your release from jail or prison, whichever is later. 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b)1)

In order to obtain an hearing, you must first submit the following documentation: 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. The date of release from imprisonment refers to the imprisonment on the conviction for the offense and does not include release from imprisonment for a violation of parole or probation. 92 Illinois Administrative Code ยงยง 1001.420 and 1001.430

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