In Illinois a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense can be charged as either a felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI.
With either a felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI the core issues presented are the same, i.e., did the police officer have a proper reason to stop your vehicle, was there enough evidence to ask you to perform the field sobriety tests and does the evidence prove that you were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The differences between a felony DUI and misdemeanor DUI involve bond and sentencing. First, your bond on a DUI will be substantially higher if your charged with a felony. A typical misdemeanor bond might be $100.00. Whereas a typical bond on a felony case is $2,000. to $3,000. Aside from the amount of bond being different, all of the other conditions of bond are the same.
A person that is charged with a felony DUI usually begins being charged as a misdemeanor DUI and then the charge is upgraded at court. The reason for this is because the arresting police officer does not have the authority to charge you with a felony as a felony has to be approved by a state’s attorney. Additionally, a felony DUI has to be charged by either a grand jury indictment otherwise you would be entitled to a preliminary hearing. See my website for more information on grand jury indictments and preliminary hearings.
If a client of mine is charged with a misdemeanor DUI and I believe that there is a chance that the charge might be upgraded in court, I will inform the client to bring enough money with them to court so if the bond does increase the client would be able to bond out without having to go to jail and then have to figure out how to get the bond money.
Additionally, as your attorney there are steps and legal procedures I can take to try to prevent the charge from being upgraded from a misdemeanor DUI to a felony DUI.
Sentencing is also different between a misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI. Because a felony DUI involves a person who has had prior DUIs or aggravating circumstances surrounding the DUI, (serious injury accident) the sentence is greater.