Feb 18

The state of Illinois prohibits any person from driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances. Ultimately, any driver on Illinois roads must ensure that they can operate their vehicle safely and in compliance with applicable law. Any violation of Illinois DUI laws can result in a jail or prison sentence and criminal fines. 

But if a DUI offense also involves a fatality — even an unintentional one — the offender will usually face reckless homicide charges instead. Given the severity of this type of conduct, reckless homicide is a felony crime with heightened penalties for any violation.

How Does Illinois Define Reckless Homicide?

720 ILCS 5/9-3 provides the Illinois definition of reckless homicide. There are two different versions of reckless homicide under this section. 

The first version of reckless homicide applies whenever a person:

  • Commits DUI; and
  • Causes the death of another person as a direct result, unintentionally and without legal justification.

The second version of reckless homicide applies whenever a person:

  • Uses an incline on a road — such as a bridge approach, hill, or railroad crossing — to send their vehicle airborne; and
  • Causes the death of another person as a direct result, unintentionally.

What is the Illinois Punishment for Reckless Homicide?

Section 9-3 also explains the Illinois punishment for reckless homicide. At a minimum, reckless homicide is punishable as a Class 3 felony. A conviction at this level can lead to criminal fines up to $25,000 and a prison sentence between two and five years. 

That being said, reckless homicide can become a Class 2 felony offense if:

  • The offender intentionally sent their vehicle airborne and causes the death of two or more victims in the same course of conduct; or
  • The offender causes the death of a peace officer who was performing their official duties. 

A conviction for a Class 2 felony in Illinois can lead to criminal fines up to $25,000 and a prison sentence between three and seven years. 

In addition, Section 9-3 provides for even more severe penalties for certain types of reckless driving offenses. This enhanced punishment applies to reckless homicide offenses that occurred:

  • On a public thoroughfare with a school crossing guard performing their official duties;
  • In a construction or maintenance zone; or
  • While failing or refusing to obey any lawful order or direction of a police officer or similar official.

Any person who commits reckless homicide in the above-mentioned situations will likely face Class 2 felony charges. But instead of the standard prison sentence, offenders in these circumstances face imprisonment for at least three to six years and at most 14 to 28 years. 

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.