Harsher Penalties for Wrong-Way DUI Crashes in 2019

3scbuulajgg-matthew-hamilton-300x200Though more than 250 laws went into effect on January 1, 2019, one in particular will affect all Illinois drivers. The Secretary of State’s Office announced in its “Illinois DUI Fact Book 2019” that driving the wrong way on any roadway is now an aggravated factor in sentencing for a DUI conviction.

The new law may have been inspired by multiple wrong way DUI crashes along Chicago area roads in recent years, including on I-57, Lake Shore Drive, I-80, and even in the Loop. One in September 2018 was especially disturbing: A woman was over three times the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol when she caused an accident by driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-90. Three people were killed and three children were critically injured. All were from the same family. The drunk driver also died from her injuries.

If you are charged with DUI while driving the wrong way of traffic, it is essential to retain an experienced Illinois DUI defense lawyer to represent you. An overview of the law and its harsh penalties may also be helpful.

Details of the New DUI Law

The statute that went into effect January 1 does not affect the actual crime of drunk driving in Illinois. You can still be arrested for driving while impaired or with a blood alcohol concentration over .08%. The prosecution must still prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The new law applies at the sentencing phase, after you have already been convicted. Wrong way driving is an aggravating factor that a judge can consider when sentencing you for a DUI. The law applies regardless of whether you cause an accident.

How Aggravating Factors Affect Penalties for a DUI Conviction

It is important to understand that wrong way driving is now an aggravating factor when sentencing a person in a DUI case. It is not an aggravated crime. Someone may be charged with an aggravated crime by using a weapon during commission of an assault. In such a case, the assault becomes aggravated assault.

Instead, aggravating factors may be used against you to increase your punishment after a conviction. Your term of incarceration could be longer, your fine could be higher, and you could be on probation for an extended period. Other examples of aggravating factors are a history of DUI or other criminal convictions, or causing a risk of harm to others.

However, just as there are aggravating factors in sentencing, there may be mitigating factors that could be in your favor. A DUI defense lawyer would present all available evidence to the court that may serve to counteract aggravating factors and/or potentially reduce your sentence.

An Illinois DUI Defense Attorney Will Protect Your Rights

If you were arrested for drunk driving, you need solid legal representation to fight the charges. Even without an aggravating factor like wrong way driving, a DUI conviction can lead to severe penalties. Attorney David L. Freidberg can help. Schedule a free consultation or call (312) 560-7100 today.

(image courtesy of Matthew Hamilton)

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