What is the Criminal Charge of DUI in Illinois?

In our previous post we explained that there are two main parts of Illinois DUI law: the Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension and the criminal charge of DUI. This post addresses the basics of the second part of a DUI case, the criminal charge for Driving Under the Influence. For more information on the Summary Suspension law, please visit our previous post.

The criminal portion of an Illinois DUI case is the DUI charge itself. Generally, if a person has submitted to, and failed testing, there will be 2 tickets (or counts) issued for DUI; one based on the test failure and the other based on the officer’s observations of the person. If testing was refused, there will typically only be one count, based on the officer’s observations of the person.

DUI is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor, but in certain situations the offense can be charged as a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, DUI carries a maximum sentence of up to 12-months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus court costs. This offense may be charged as a felony (an offense that carries a potential sentence of more than a year of incarceration) under certain circumstances, including: when the driver does not have valid driving privileges or valid insurance; the driver has two or more prior DUI offenses; or the offense involves death or serious personal injury.

Felony sentencing depends on the ‘class’ of the offense, which, in turn, depends on the facts specific to the charge and the number of prior offenses. Sentences may range anywhere from 1 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.00.


Unlike the summary suspension law, the burden of proof in the criminal case rests with the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty of driving under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Aside from the criminal penalties, a conviction for DUI carries its own driver’s license penalties ranging from a one-year revocation up to a lifetime ban of driving privileges (based on the number of prior convictions). These license penalties are separate from the initial summary suspension consequences explained in our previous blog post.

The defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. represent clients throughout Illinois including Cook County, Lake County and Du Page County. Illinois DUI law is complex and criminal charges call for knowledgeable legal representation. If you have been charged with DUI in the Chicagoland area, contact us to discuss your case. Our attorneys provide the professional legal representation that you deserve.

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