Moving Violations That Can Land You in Jail
Moving Violations That Can Land You in Jail
By Martin Lascola
We’ve all heard of getting traffic tickets when you’re accused of violating the rules on the road, but are there moving violations that can land you in jail? It can happen in Illinois, especially when it comes to repeat violations. Whether you’re 18 or 80, you are bound by all the rules of the applicable Illinois Vehicle Code concerning your conduct behind the wheel. Failing to do so can bring dire consequences.
Many moving violations are charged as misdemeanors. Although typical punishments for these type of violations include a fine, traffic school, community service, or even suspending/revoking the motorist’s license, a more severe outcome may occur depending on the circumstances. You may or may not be eligible for Court Supervision based on your past driving record. Some people are convicted of misdemeanor traffic offenses and those can remain permanently on your public criminal record. The court also has discretion to sentence someone to a term of imprisonment for a misdemeanor charge.
The likelihood of imprisonment increases significantly when a moving violation is charged as a felony, which can also happen in certain cases.
In Illinois, misdemeanors carry the possibility of a jail sentence. They are categorized based on the severity of the infraction and appear on your public record.
Class A Misdemeanor – Up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.
Class B Misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.
Class C Misdemeanor – Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.
Felony convictions are more severe and carry even higher fines, extended jail sentences which are generally served in a state penitentiary and a permanent criminal record that may impair your eligibility for certain jobs, educational activities, etc.
Here is a list of the most common moving violations that can land you in jail. All of them can be charged as misdemeanors and some as felonies, depending on the circumstances and your past criminal and/or driving record. Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you will be appearing in court mandatorily. Be sure to contact a criminal lawyer to represent your interests, protect your rights, and help you avoid imprisonment.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) The legal limit for driving under the influence is a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08%. While many people know this, some mistakenly drive under the influence and end up getting pulled over for a DUI. First and second DUI offenses are generally charged as Class A misdemeanors. Typically, first offenders are given a summary license suspension and need to install a BAIID (breath ignition interlock device) on their car (if their statutory summary license suspension remains intact) to ensure the motorist is not operating a vehicle with alcohol in their system during the period of suspension. Misdemeanor sentencing provisions apply and county jail would be the most severe punishment. A third or subsequent offense may result in felony charges ranging from a Class 4 Probation Eligible Felony to a Class X Non-Probationable which carries mandatory jail time at a State Penitentiary.
- Reckless Driving The State of Illinois defines reckless driving as driving a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. Drivers in Illinois who drive recklessly will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Although felony exposure for Reckless Driving is rare, it is still possible if serious bodily harm or disfigurement occurs to an injured person as a result of the reckless driving. Another example is when a driver causes bodily harm to a child or school crossing guard. This would also likely become “aggravated” reckless driving and be charged as a Class 4 felony.
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident If you are driving and your car strikes and damages a vehicle, Illinois law requires you to immediately stop at the scene and perform your “duty to give information and render aid.” You are required to give your name, address, registration number and owner of the vehicle you are driving. If the driver needs medical assistance, you are required to do your best to call for help or transport the injured party t to a doctor or hospital. If you do not comply with this law, you may be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Furthermore, if the damage to the car is more than $1,000, your license can be suspended, and you could face up to a year in county jail and/or potentially a $2,500 fine and probation up to 24 months.
- Driving on a Suspended License (misdemeanor and felony) Under the Illinois Vehicle Code Section 6-303, driving under a suspended license is considered a Class A misdemeanor, technically punishable with jail, fines and court costs. The court will consider many factors in your case, for example, the reason for the suspension and whether or not you are a repeat offender, etc. If your suspended license was due to a DUI and you are caught driving a car without a BAIID device, you can expect stiffer penalties. This offense may also be charged at the felony level if there are enough prior violations of this section of the Vehicle Code.
- Driving on a Revoked License Like driving on a suspended license, a motorist driving with a revoked license is committing a Class A misdemeanor, at minimum. Depending on the basis for the revocation, (cause of personal injury or death to another, a DUI conviction, dollar amount of property damage, repeat offenses, etc.) you may be charged with a Class 4 felony, a criminal offense that carries serious consequences and possible penitentiary time.
- Street Racing (formerly known as Drag Racing) The exact definition of “street racing” can be found in the Illinois Vehicle Code Section 625 ILCS 5/11-506. Street racing is considered a Class A misdemeanor for drivers and even a Class B misdemeanor for anyone who allows their car to be used for street racing. Few people understand what a serious offense street racing is in the State of Illinois but it’s a moving violation that can land you in jail and it would be wise to discuss the consequences with any teen drivers you may have in your household.
- Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Peace Officer When a police officer is attempting to pull you over and you willfully fail or refuse to obey, speed up to escape the pursuit, turn off your lights, or try in any other way to elude the officer, you can be ticketed for fleeing/eluding the police. As indicated in 625 ILCS 5/11-204, your license will be suspended for a minimum for 6 months on the first conviction and up to 12 months on a second conviction. Subsequent convictions may be charged as a Class 4 felony where the Court may impose jail time.
- Aggravated Speeding It makes for rollicking fun in the movies, but in real life, “aggravated speeding” is no laughing matter and carries stiff penalties in the State of Illinois. Aggravated speeding is defined as driving more than 26 mph over the posted limit (a class B misdemeanor) and considered a Class A misdemeanor when the driver is traveling more than 35mph over the speed limit. If convicted, the Class A violation is punishable by up to 12 months in county jail and a $2,500 fine plus court costs. You may or may not be eligible for court supervision depending on your record. It is imperative to consult with a traffic defense attorney if charged with this offense to see if you may be eligible to have this charged amended and reduced to a petty, non-criminal traffic violation to preserve a clean driving history.
Driving is serious business and moving violations can potentially land you in jail. Even petty traffic violations can have severe consequences if your prior driving history is loaded with past violations. If you ever find yourself in need of legal counsel for a serious moving violation, whether it’s your first one or if you’re afraid to admit how many, look to Gardi & Haught and our experienced counsel to guide you to the best possible outcome. Request a Free Case Evaluation below.