Many people in Illinois assume that being cited for a traffic offense will not affect them in any major way, aside from having to pay a fine. Drivers throughout Chicagoland are shocked to learn that certain traffic offenses actually can be charged as misdemeanor offenses—resulting in a criminal record upon conviction—or even, in some cases, as felony offenses. To be clear, certain types of traffic violations are classified as misdemeanors, and they can lead to a criminal record. When a person has a criminal record, he or she may be required to report it on job applications, rental applications, and even applications for certain types of credit. Accordingly, if you are facing charges for a misdemeanor or felony traffic offense, you need to have an experienced Chicago traffic defense lawyer on your side.
We want to tell you more about the most common types of traffic violations that result in misdemeanor or felony charges.
Speeding can Result in Misdemeanor Charges
You might not realize it, but speeding can result in misdemeanor charges in Illinois. Under Illinois law, if a person is cited for speeding in excess of 26 miles per hour, but less than 35 miles per hour, above the posted speed limit, that person can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. Upon conviction, a person can face up to 180 days of jail time and a fine of up to $1,500 for a Class B misdemeanor conviction. In addition, the person will have a criminal record.
If a person is cited for speeding in excess of 35 miles per hour or more, then that person can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor under Illinois law. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can result in a sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Driving on a Suspended License
If you are stopped and cited for driving on a suspended or revoked license, Illinois law says that the driver can face a Class A misdemeanor conviction, which can result in a penalty of up to 364 days of jail time and a possible fine of up to $2,500.
Reckless Driving in Illinois
If you are charged with reckless driving in Illinois, you will also be facing potential criminal penalties. Under Illinois’s reckless driving law, you will face penalties for a Class A misdemeanor if you are convicted of reckless driving. As we have mentioned above, a Class A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 364 days in jail and a financial penalty of as much as $2,500. In some cases, where reckless driving results in bodily harm, the driver can face penalties for a Class 4 felony, which includes prison time of up to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.
What is reckless driving under Illinois law? The statute defines reckless driving as driving “any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Beyond speeding, driving on a suspended or revoked license, and reckless driving, DUIs are criminal offenses that can be misdemeanors or felonies. Nearly all traffic offenses that can result in misdemeanor charges may become felonies if the motorist causes bodily injury to another party.