If you made the stupid decision to operate your vehicle while intoxicated, you might face a DUI charge. DUI or driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the act of operating a car after consuming a considerable amount of alcohol and other intoxicating substance. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in all 50 states of the country is 0.08 percent. If you are charged with a DUI, the last thing you want to think about is whether you are going to be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
The charges for this offense may vary. Whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony may depend on the following factors:
- Your blood alcohol content
- Your behavior while driving. Were you reckless? Were you putting other people in danger?
- You or other people sustained injuries due to the accident
- Whether or not you are a repeat DUI offender
Misdemeanor Versus Felony
If you were pulled over for DUI for the first time, you may be charged with a simple misdemeanor. But you will still need a credible lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. In doing so, you might get the charge overturned; however, if you fail to get an attorney, you might face possible jail time, which will then result to loss of wages, suspension of driver’s license, and increased insurance rates. Those who have failed to employ the services of a lawyer have regretted it.
Unfortunately, if your drunk driving incident resulted to a car crash which led to injuries or premature death, or if your BAC was way beyond the limit, or if you are a repeat offender, you may be charged with a DUI felony. Based on federal law, felony is usually referred to any criminal offense which is punishable by imprisonment for more than a year. Remember that in some states, a DUI misdemeanor can escalate to a felony if you had a prior DUI offense within a certain range of time- usually within the span of 10 years.
Each state has their own legal repercussions about drunk driving offense, and when it can be charged as a felony. In fact, some states have zero tolerance and will do everything they can to charge you with a felony, while other states are more lenient. Below are some examples of when a drunk driving misdemeanor become a felony:
New York: A second DUI offense within 10 years, or if the incident occurred with a car crash where another individual got hurt. Felony conviction may result to a jail sentence, license revocation, and payment of fines.
Ohio: Fourth or succeeding DUI offense
Texas: Third or succeeding DUI offense within 10 years, or if the drunk driving incident involves a passenger who is younger than 15 years old.
California: Penalties for DUI conviction increase with each subsequent offense. Felony charges depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense. For instance, you can be charged with a felony for any of the following reasons:
- Previous DUI violations and convictions
- Violation occurred with a vehicular accident where another person was injured or killed.
- All DUI arrests within the state in the span of 10 years of the previous DUI charges will be considered a felony.
Utah: Third or succeeding DUI violation within 10 years, or if the violation resulted to injuries due to operating a car in a negligent manner.
If you are charged with a DUI misdemeanor, you will get a mark on your driving record and you will need to pay a fine. Your license might also get suspended between 1-3 months. If you have been charged with a felony, you will face possible time in prison, pay a hefty fine which can amount to thousands of dollars, and your license will be revoked for up to a year.
You should immediately get in touch with a credible lawyer to discuss your options. click here for help determining the best procedure to move your case forward.
The author, Kris Bennette, is taking Pre-Law and she wants to someday specialize in DUI cases. In this article, she wants to raise awareness about DUI misdemeanor and felony convictions.
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