Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a serious crime in and of itself – but doing so in conjunction with an accident from which you flee the scene is even worse.
DUIs and hit-and-run accidents are two separate crimes in Illinois. The seriousness of the charges against you and the subsequent penalties depend on your criminal history as well as what occurred during the hit-and-run accident.
If you’ve been involved in a DUI hit-and-run, then there’s important information you need to know. Read on to find out more.
Hit And Run Accidents in Illinois
How a hit-and-run accident is charged depends on the circumstances of the case. It is illegal in the state of Illinois for a driver to flee the scene of an accident, whether it is their fault or not. If you are involved in an accident, especially one in which injuries occur, then you must remain at the scene. The only exception is if you need immediate medical attention.
You must also provide information to the police on site and any other drivers who were involved. If you leave the scene without fulfilling these requirements, then you can be facing felony charges as well as a driver’s license revocation.
If the accident you were involved in resulted in the death of someone, then you will face a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which can send you to prison for up to 14 years if found guilty.
If the accident you’re involved in also includes charges for a DUI, there is additional information of which you should be aware. You are considered guilty of a DUI in Illinois if your blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08 percent.
Keep in mind, too, that if you are not of legal drinking age, then there is a zero-tolerance policy in Illinois.
The penalties for a DUI accident are quite serious, particularly if there was damage done to property or someone was injured. If your accident while driving under the influence includes serious injury, death, damage to another vehicle, or damage to someone else’s property, then you face aggravated DUI charges.
For DUI accidents where a serious injury occurred, you can face:
- Up to 12 years in prison
- Fines of as much as $25,000
- Revocation of your driver’s license for at least two years
- A criminal record that includes a Class 4 felony
If there was a death involved in your DUI accident, then you face these penalties:
- A criminal record with a Class 2 felony on it
- As many as 14 years in prison
- Fines for as much as $25,000
For a DUI accident that resulted in multiple deaths, you might also be convicted of a Class 2 felony in the state. However, the penalties are harsher, sending you to prison for as many as 28 years and requiring you to pay fines in the amount of $25,000.
The penalties you face for your DUI can also be enhanced if:
- The accident includes a school bus with children on board
- You were caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a school zone
- You did not have the proper insurance on your vehicle
- You did not have a driver’s license
- There was bodily harm to a child younger than age 16
Look for increased penalties if any of these conditions exist in your case.
It’s worth mentioning that anyone who leaves an accident after driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face additional charges beyond a DUI or hit-and-run accident. Vehicular homicide, as well as reckless driving, can also be charged. So it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney if you are involved in a hit-and-run DUI.
How To Defend Yourself
If you were involved in a hit-and-run DUI accident, don’t feel as if all hope of a proper defense is lost. You are entitled to a robust defense. While the right defense for your case depends on your individual circumstances, there are some ways attorneys have successfully defended a DUI hit-and-run driver. Some of these common defenses include:
You Weren’t Driving
If you were in the car that was involved but were not driving it, then that’s an important factor. Sometimes it is possible that police identify the wrong driver. If that’s the case, let your attorney know as soon as possible so they can prepare this defense.
You Didn’t Know There Was an Accident
It’s also possible that you were unaware when an accident occurred. This may not cover the DUI charges, but is a step to showing the court that you didn’t intentionally leave the scene of an accident.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.