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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain the difference between a DUI charge and an aggravated DUI, what factors lead to an aggravated DUI, and the penalties for different types of aggravated DUIs.  For some foundational information you can click here to learn more about Illinois DUI Law generally: Illinois DUI Law Explained;  and check out our article on What to Do if You Are Pulled Over for a DUI in Illinois.

What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor DUI and an Aggravated DUI in Illinois?

A DUI in Illinois is generally a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of one year of prison time. However, certain aggravating factors can cause a DUI to become a felony, known as an aggravated DUI. Unlike a misdemeanor DUI, felony aggravated DUIs have maximum sentences in excess of one year in prison. If a driver is convicted of an aggravated DUI, the court is required to sentence him or her to a minimum of 10 days in jail or 480 hours of community service. However, typical sentences are at least 1-3 years of prison time.  The relevant statute dealing with both misdemeanor DUIs and aggravated DUIs is 625 ILCS 5/11-501, et seq.   

What Types of Offenses Constitute an Aggravated DUI in Illinois?

Below is a list of the different factors that can cause a DUI to become an aggravated DUI, along with the sentences associated with each of the factors: ​

  • Prior DUI violations: If the intoxicated driver has committed two prior DUIs, the third and subsequent DUIs will be Class 2 Felonies.  Sentence: 3-7 years
  • Driving While Your License is Suspended or Revoked for Certain Reasons:  The driver’s DUI will be aggravated if he or she was driving on license that was suspended or revoked for any of the following offenses: a prior DUI, leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, driving under a prior summary suspension, or reckless homicide. Sentence: 1-3 years
  • Driving Without a Valid Driver’s LIcense: If the intoxicated driver did not have a valid driver’s license, driving permit, restricted driving permit, or judicial driving permit at the time of the DUI, the violation will be enhanced to an aggravated DUI. Sentence: 1-3 years.
  • Driving Without Valid Insurance: Aggravated DUI occurs when the intoxicated driver “knew or should have known that the vehicle he or she was driving was not covered by a liability insurance policy.”  This means that the prosecution must prove not only that the vehicle was uninsured, but also that the driver should have known or actually knew that the vehicle was uninsured. Sentence: 1-3 years
  • Accidents resulting in Great Bodily Harm: A DUI accident resulting in another person’s great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement is an aggravated DUI regardless of whether the intoxicated driver was at fault. Sentence: 1-12 years
  • Accidents Resulting in Bodily Harm to A Minor Under Age 16: If bodily harm occurs to a minor under the age of 16, the bodily harm need not be “great” in order to result in an aggravated DUI.  Sentence: 3-7 years
  • Accidents Causing a Fatality: Unlike many other aggravated DUI offenses, the intoxicated driver must be at least partially at fault.  Regardless of how many fatalities result from the collision, this charge will be treated as one felony.  However, the sentence will be different depending on how many fatalities are involved.  Sentence: 1-12 years for one fatality; 6-28 years for multiple fatalities.
  • Driving in a School Zone:  An intoxicated person driving in a school zone while a speed limit of 20 miles per hour is in effect will be charged with an aggravated DUI if any bodily harm occurs to another individual.  The bodily harm need not be serious, and the driver need not be driving in excess of 20 miles per hour in order for the DUI to be enhanced to a felony.  Note that if the bodily harm is classified as “great bodily harm,” it will fall under a different charge with a stronger penalty.Sentence: 1-3 years.
  • Driving a School Bus with At Least One Passenger under the age of 18 Sentence: 1-3 years
  • A Second DUI while transporting Minors Under Age 16:  An aggravated DUI occurs when the driver commits his or her second DUI while driving with minors under the age of 16 in his or her vehicle.Sentence: 3-7 years
  • A Second DUI after a previous conviction for an alcohol-related homicide offense: Sentence: 1-3 years in prison
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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