In Illinois, there are some circumstances when a first DUI is a felony offense. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 entitled Driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination, provides that any person “convicted of committing a violation of this Section shall be guilty of aggravated driving under the influence” if “the person committed the violation while he or she did not possess a driver’s license.” An aggravated DUI under these circumstances is a Class 4 Felony punishable by one (1) to three (3) years in prison.
This law disproportionally impacts undocumented immigrants, foreign nationals and the urban poor. A new law introduced in 2013 allowed undocumented (non-visa status) individuals to receive a valid Illinois driver’s license. Since 2013, more than 85,000 immigrants living in the U.S. illegally now have an Illinois driver’s license under the new program. For information about the program check out: Cyber Drive.
If you are charged with an Aggravated DUI because you do not have an Illinois Driver’s License you may have a strong defense. Illinois law states that a “nonresident who has in his immediate possession a valid license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motor vehicle for which he is licensed for the period during which he is in this State.” 625 ILCS 5/6-102(2).
However, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is not an international driver’s license, which would likely not be valid in Illinois. If you have an IDP you also must have a valid foreign driver’s license is still necessary.
If a foreign national becomes a resident of Illinois, it is necessary for him or her to obtain an Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License .html within 90 days after becoming a resident of the State.
For more information regarding the Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License, check out the Illinois Secretary of State website.