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Aggravating Factors That Lead to Harsher DUI Punishments

Posted on in Criminal Law
Aggravating Factors Can Lead to Harsher DUI PunishmentsAn Illinois legislator is trying to make driving the wrong way on a one-way street an aggravating factor in cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The bill, proposed by State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D. - Riverside, has already been passed by the Illinois House of Representative and is being considered by the Illinois Senate. Advocates cite the number of fatalities and injuries that occur due to wrong-way crashes.

A court can use an aggravating factor as a reason to impose harsher punishment during sentencing. An aggravated DUI conviction is at minimum a class 4 felony, which includes a one- to three-year prison sentence. Wrong-way driving would be only the latest in Illinois' long list of aggravating factors.

Actions During Offense

The court may consider the DUI offender's actions and any resulting damages as aggravating factors. Examples include:

  • If the offense resulted in a homicide
  • If the offense caused or threatened serious harm
  • If the offender is convicted of another felony related to the DUI offense
  • If the offense is related to organized gang activity
  • If the offender committed the act in exchange for compensation
  • If the offender committed the act as a hate crime

Offender Identity

Who the DUI offender is and his or her personal history are potential aggravating factors, even if it does not directly relate to the offense.

  • An offender's criminal history can lead to harsher punishment. This includes whether the offender was on probation, released on bail or previously convicted of crimes varying from first degree murder to child pornography.
  • People in a position of trust are held to a higher standard. This includes public officials who abuse their positions to commit the offense and people responsible for supervising children.

Victim Identity

A DUI offender may receive stricter punishment if the offense causes injuries to specific classifications of people or their property, including:

  • Senior citizens and children
  • People with disabilities
  • Armed services veterans
  • People using public transportation


Where the DUI offense happens matters. Locations that can be aggravating factors include:

  • School zones and day care centers
  • Places of worship holding a service
  • Nursing homes

Setting Examples

In the list of aggravating factors, Illinois law states that the court may also render stricter sentencing in order to deter others from committing the same crime.

DUI Defense

DUI convictions can lead to extended prison time, heavy fines and restricted driving privileges. Contact a McHenry County DUI defense lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC to defend you in your DUI case.



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