In the minds of most drivers, drunk driving and speeding are two very different offenses. Many people cringe at the idea of (knowingly) driving drunk. But how many of us can honestly say that we never drive faster than the posted speed limit?
For a long time, Illinois law has generally treated speeding and DUI as two very different offenses. But the start of 2017 ushered in changes to the penalties for speeding in school zones and work zones, some of which are on par with misdemeanor DUI.
As recent news articles have noted, when driving through a posted school or work zone:
- Driving between 26 mph and 34 mph above the posted speed limit is now considered a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,500 in fines)
- Driving 35 mph or higher above the posted speed limit is now considered a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500)
In Illinois, a first-offense DUI is often classified as a Class A misdemeanor (unless certain circumstances raise it to the level of a felony). The fact that excessive speeding in posted school or work zones can warrant the same criminal charge as first-offense DUI is surprising, but not entirely shocking. It is part of a long trend of increasingly stringent traffic laws in our state.
Nevertheless, if you have been charged with a Class A misdemeanor, either for excessive speeding or first-offense DUI, you may be able to mitigate the effects of those charges. As I note on my website, first-time offenders may be able to undergo Court Supervision rather than facing conviction. Although you will likely incur fines and mandatory traffic school, you will not necessarily lose your driving privileges (as you would with a conviction).
No matter what criminal charges you may be facing, the help of an experienced defense attorney is crucial. Please consider reaching out for guidance if you find yourself in need of criminal defense representation.