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Springfield Illinois man faces Aggravated Driving Under the Influence charges

The State Journal-Register, the Springfield Illinois daily, reports that a man was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The story alleges that the accused drove into a front yard and hit a parked car, after which he left the scene. Police have charged him with aggravated DUI. The article does not lay out the facts that would explain why the DUI was aggravated.

Leaving the scene of a collision involving property damage is a Class-A misdemeanor (625 ILCS 5/11-402) punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, if the damages exceed $1,000.00, the Illinois Secretary of State will suspend the offender’s driver’s license for a period of one year upon conviction 625 ILCS 5/6-206(a)(21)

On the other hand, if a driver is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident in which someone suffers personal injury or death, even if the injury is only to the driver who fled, that person is guilty of a Class 4 felony in accordance with 625 ILCS 5/11-401 The Secretary of State will revoke the convicted person’s driver’s license for a period of one year. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(4)

A revocation differs from a suspension in this respect: once a suspension period ends, the Secretary of State would automatically return your driver’s license upon payment of the reinstatement fee. If you are revoked, you must have a driver’s license hearing with the Secretary of State.

The penalty for leaving the scene is similar to that which a DUI arrest carries. The reason is that it is felt many people flee the scene of an accident because they are attempting to avoid a DUI arrest. Those persons who cause injury and flee should, the thinking goes, explain themselves to the Secretary of State.

The aggravated DUI provisions, of which there are numerous, are found at 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (d). Aggravating factors include: 1) two or more previous DUI “violations” (thus, supervision qualifies as a prior violation even though there is no conviction People v. Bloomberg, 378 Ill. App. 3d 686, 881 N.E.2d 615, 317 Ill. Dec. 447, 2008 WL 220329 (Ill. App. Ct. 2008)); 2) DUI while driving a school bus with passengers less than 18; 3) great body harm caused by driving under the influence; 4) a DUI where the offender had a previous reckless homicide conviction; 5) a DUI and injury while speeding in a school zone; 6) a DUI that caused death; 7) a DUI at a time the offender’s driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to a previous DUI; 8) a DUI committed at a time the driver did not possess a valid driver’s license, including failure to renew a license that was not suspended or revoked; 9) a DUI at a time the driver knew the vehicle was not insured; 10) a DUI that resulted in harm to a passenger under the age of 16; and 11) a second DUI at a time the person was transporting a child under the age of 16.

All such offenses are a Class 4 felony unless there are additional aggravating factors that make it a more serious felony. Because the Illinois Supreme Court has declared the reckless homicide law unconstitutional prosecutors typically charge DUI death cases as aggravated DUI under item 6 above.

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