What Factors Can Aggravate Or Enhance DUI Charges?
Either term is correct, an enhancement or an aggravating circumstance. I look at it in two different ways because you have, for example, aggravating circumstances by statute; in other words, a circumstance that would make it either a higher class offense from a misdemeanor to a felony, or it would invoke certain mandatory minimum sentencing by statute. If there is a personal injury accident, if there is an accident involving death, if an individual has prior DUI offenses, if they have a blood alcohol content over 0.16%, double the legal limit, having a minor in the vehicle, getting a DUI while you are driving a school bus, those are all what I would call statutory aggravating factors that would put you into either a new class of offense or would subject you to more severe penalties.
There are also other aggravating factors. By statute, they are not necessarily aggravating, but even if you are in a single car accident, most courts will consider that to be an aggravating circumstance, in other words, a reason why the judge might want to sentence you to something more severe.
Alternative Programs Available To DUI Offenders In Illinois
There are a lot of different programs for DUI offenders that are available. Most first offenders are going to be eligible for what is called Court Supervision, and that is basically just a term, it is a special type of probation where, if you do everything you are supposed to do, in other words, complete all the conditions of that court supervision, it does not result in a judgment conviction on your record. There are also other programs that are available. What I would consider to be alternatives to jail such as doing community service like at a church or a charitable organization. Some counties have what is called the SWAP (Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program) program, and that is considered to be an alternative to jail.
Basically for SWAP, you do work around the courthouse, pick up trash along the highways and things like that. Also different counties also have either an electronic home monitoring or house arrest program, which would again be an alternative to jail where you have to wear an ankle bracelet and you cannot leave a house except for work or other limited circumstances. Jail is rare for my first offender clients, but if there is a situation where there is a judge that for whatever reason is seriously considering jail, I want to argue and persuade the judge to consider one of those other alternatives.
Advice For People Contemplating Self-Representation In A DUI Case
There is almost no good reason not to have a lawyer. For starters, technically an individual is allowed to represent themselves, but most judges really do not like to do that and so they are going to do everything they can to convince that individual either to hire their own lawyer, or maybe see if they qualify for the public defender. Public defenders are like any other lawyer. There are good ones and there are bad ones. The thing is that when you have a public defender, if you get a bad one, you cannot trade them in, you cannot get a new one, and you are stuck with whomever is assigned to your case.
Even the best public defenders are way overworked and under loved. The experience that somebody is going to have when I am representing them is much different than a public defender. I am very available to my clients; I answer phone calls day or night. We are going to have a lot more sit-down meetings, I will be a lot more thorough, I will hold their hand a lot more to make sure that they are comfortable, make sure they understand everything that is going on and help them make the right decisions.
Important Things To Know When Facing DUI Charges In Illinois
They have to understand that this is a process that is not going to be over in one court appearance. That is something that a lot of people are surprised to learn. Particularly if we are litigating the case, a first time DUI, a run-of-the-mill DUI is going to take up to three to six months. If it is a second offense, an aggravated or a felony offense, it is going to take even longer than that. They should also understand what their rights and options are as far as their license suspension goes and as far as basically proceeding in the case.
That is how I approach every case once I have all the evidence, once the state has turned over all their evidence to me and we have concluded our investigation. I then have a meeting with my client and I make sure that they understand all the evidence. I answer any questions they have and then we talk about what their options are and I tell them basically the pros and cons of each of those options. Based on that, then we decide what we are going to do from there and how we are going to proceed with the case.
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