Can I get court supervision for a first-time DUI if I have a prior reckless driving charge on my record?

by Sami Azhari on February 3, 2010

DUI Supervision with Prior Reckless Driving

Driving under the influence in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense. Class A misdemeanor charges can be punished by up to one year in jail, and the defendant can be ordered to pay a fine of $2,500.

A first offense for DUI has a possible sentence of court supervision. This is the preferred sentence for all first offenders. A conviction for DUI will result in a revoked driver’s license. The Secretary of State will impose a revocation of driving privileges for any person who is convicted of DUI, and that revocation usually lasts one year. Supervision will result in dismissal of the charges without a conviction provided certain conditions imposed by the judge are met. Because there is no conviction, the Secretary of State will not revoked the driver’s license of the defendant. If the defendant on supervision cannot satisfy the terms of the sentence, then he can be re-sentenced to a conviction and possibly jail. The resulting conviction will cause a revoked license.

Often defendants will seek a reduction of their charges to reckless driving, because a conviction for reckless driving, 625 ILCS 5/11-503(a)(1) or 11-503(a)(2), does not cause a driver’s license to be revoked. For first offenders, a reduction to reckless driving is a good deal. And for repeat offenders, it is critical because supervision is not available for a second DUI offense.

State lawmakers tried to address the problem of reductions to reckless driving in DUI prosecutions by  amending the supervision sentencing statute, 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1. Subsection d(3) now says that a defendant who has previously pled guilty in a plea agreement (e.g., plea bargain or negotiated plea) to reckless driving cannot receive court supervision for DUI.

The problem caused by this statute is that even if the reckless driving charge was not a result of a reduction of DUI charges, the defendant still cannot receive supervision for a DUI. Thus, persons who were charged with reckless driving in the past for excessive speeding and who are later arrested for DUI cannot receive court supervision even though this is a first offense for DUI. The Supreme Court of Illinois said that if the reckless driving charge was the result of a negotiated plea, then the defendant is not supervision eligible for a later DUI. See People v. Kinzer, 232 Ill. 2d 179 (2009).

This rule is enforced by State’s Attorneys checking the defendant’s driver’s abstract for prior reckless driving charges. If a reckless driving appears on the record, the State will inquire with the court about the offense.

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