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DUI as a Misdemeanor and Felony: Reasons, Consequences, and More

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offense that jeopardizes public safety. DUI charges are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. This classification depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.

As a citizen of the US, you need to comprehend the nuances of these classifications as well as the far-reaching consequences they entail. Additionally, understanding local DUI laws is essential for those charged with a DUI.

Read on to learn why and when your DUI charge can be termed a misdemeanor or a felony, the reasons, and the consequences you may face.

Understanding DUI Classification

The punishments for DUI depend on numerous factors, like damages caused and the number of times you’ve been caught drunk behind the wheel. This will have an impact on the punishments and fines you’re awarded.

A misdemeanor is a first, second, or third DUI charge without any aggravating factors like fatalities or injuries. A misdemeanor becomes a felony when the DUI causes serious bodily harm or death. In some states, repeated offenses are categorized as felony offenses.

Key Differences: Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI

Misdemeanor DUI entails only a few incidents. These incidents are repeated in some cases without any aggravating conditions, such as serious injuries or a loss of life. Penalties can be undoubtedly disastrous but less catastrophic than those of a felony.

The penalties range from being fined or supervised to a jail sentence. For you to be charged with a felony, it must be proven that you have a brazen contempt for public safety.

Scenarios That Warrant a Felony DUI Charge

The law specifies some scenarios that can warrant the escalation of your DUI charge to a felony. They are mentioned below.

  • Fourth DUI within 10 Years: An individual will have to face a felony charge if they have run into four or more DUI violations within the span of the ten years.
  • Prior Felony DUI Conviction: If you are arrested for a DUI offense for a second time, you would have a more severe charge than those with a first offense.
  • DUI Causing Injury: When the crash leads to a serious injury, authorities could charge the offense as a felony.
  • DUI Causing Death: In instances where an intoxicated driver’s reckless behavior leads to death, you, as the driver, may face varying degrees of vehicular manslaughter.
  • DUI with Child Endangerment: If a child aged 18 and below is present in a vehicle during a DUI arrest, you may face the possibility of the prosecutor upgrading the case to a felony child endangerment charge.

Asian man drinks beer bottle while is driving car

The Consequences and Lifelong Implications of DUI

Being convicted of a DUI charge can negatively affect your life. Individuals found guilty of multiple DUI convictions may have to spend years in state prison. Your case’s severity depends on the charges filed and the specific circumstances. Besides that, you might be mandated to pay victim restitution payments within the framework of serious fines.

The Advantages of Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer

Regardless of the classification of your DUI charge, seeking help from a highly experienced DUI defense attorney must not be overlooked. Seeking the professional help of a skilled attorney can help your case be dropped or get less severe consequences. This is important, as a DUI charge can impact normal life in many ways.

Bottom Line

DUI convictions, particularly felony charges, can affect you dearly. Whenever you find yourself facing DUI charges, you need to seek the help of a DUI defense lawyer. With competent legal counsel, you can promptly assess the charges, defend your rights, and potentially secure the best possible outcome based on the specifics of your case.