Most people are aware that a first-time DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, a less serious crime than a felony that carries under a year of jail time. In general, this is true. If it is your first DUI – and there were no aggravating factors present – you will usually be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are situations where even a first DUI can lead to felony charges. First DUIs are charged as felonies when certain circumstances suggest that the crime was more serious than a misdemeanor. If you caused an serious accident, for example, you are very likely to face felony charges.
If you have been charged with a felony DUI, there are steps an attorney may be able to take that could potentially get your charges reduced back to a misdemeanor. It is important that you take the charge very seriously and fight back with the help of an attorney.
When is a First-Time DUI a Felony?
Finding out that you have been charged with a felony can be a terrifying experience – especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. Felonies can carry more than a year in prison and leave you with a record that closes doors for the rest of your life. Understanding why your DUI has been charged as a felony can help you and your lawyer work out a defense strategy. Your first DUI could have led to felony charges because:
- Child passenger – If you were driving with a passenger under 16 years old in your car, and the child got hurt, you will likely be charged with a Class 4 felony.
- Serious bodily harm – If you seriously hurt someone while driving drunk, it is near-automatically handled as a felony.
- No car insurance – This is one of the more common reasons that people find themselves in felony territory over a simple DUI. If you did not have auto insurance, then your DUI may be handled as a felony. The reasoning is that if you had hurt someone, you might not have been able to compensate them.
- No license – Drunk driving is going to be taken more seriously if you were not supposed to be driving in the first place because your license was suspended or revoked.
A felony conviction can change the entire course of your life. Felons often struggle to find good work and adequate housing. A felony DUI can interrupt your plan for life in a big way. There are ways to fight back, but you must involve a lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact an Illinois DUI Lawyer
Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. can handle even the most serious felony DUI cases. The goal of our Will County DUI attorneys is to minimize the impact that this charge will have on your life going forward. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.