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How the “One Act, One Crime” Rule Applies to DUI Defense

Posted on in DUI Defense

IL defense lawyerThe Illinois courts have long upheld a doctrine known as the “one act, one crime” rule. This doctrine is regularly applied to criminal cases stemming from a single act of driving under the influence.

Illinois Law Defines Multiple Possible DUI Charges

When a person is arrested for DUI, they may be charged with multiple offenses. For example, someone who was impaired by alcohol may be written up on two charges for the same incident:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol - This charge is based on the arresting officer’s judgment that the driver was impaired, which may be based on the driver’s actions prior to the traffic stop as well as the driver’s performance on field sobriety tests and other observations made by the officer.
  • DUI / BAC .08 - This charge means that the driver submitted to chemical testing and their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was .08 or higher (over the legal limit).

However, under the “one act, one crime” rule, the driver can only be convicted of one of these charges.

Multiple charges are typically entered by the state to help ensure a conviction. Suppose for example, that the BAC test was improperly conducted and that piece of evidence cannot be used by the prosecution. In that case, the DUI / BAC .08 charge would have to be dropped, but the first DUI charge would still stand.

Aggravated DUI Charges When Multiple People Are Injured

If someone shoots and kills five people with a firearm, they would be charged with five homicides. So, if a drunk driver collides with another vehicle in which multiple people are injured or killed, you might think that the driver will face separate charges for each victim.

However, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that a drunk driver who commits a single DUI with multiple victims can only be convicted of one act of aggravated DUI.

A recent Cook County case provides a useful example. A drunk driver collided with a vehicle containing five people; two were killed and three were seriously injured. A jury trial found the defendant guilty on two counts of aggravated DUI resulting in death, two counts of reckless homicide, and three counts of aggravated DUI resulting in great bodily harm. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court that only one of the convictions could stand, that being the most serious one of aggravated DUI resulting in death.

Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/11-501), Aggravated DUI resulting in death is a Class 2 felony, for which the sentence is three to 14 years imprisonment for the death of one person or six to 28 years for the deaths of two or more persons. In this case, the drunk driver was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Count on an Experienced DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with DUI in DuPage County--especially if you were involved in a collision in which anyone was injured--speak with a knowledgeable Oak Brook defense lawyer as soon as possible. At McMahon Law Offices, we have helped hundreds of clients achieve favorable outcomes following a DUI arrest. Contact us at 630-953-4400.





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