Drunk driving. Driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated. Whatever term is used to describe impaired driving, it’s a criminal offense. DUI/DWI offenses are classified as either misdemeanor or felony charges. Although both types are serious, a felony charge for DUI is much more grave than a misdemeanor DUI.
Across the United States, it is illegal for drivers to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher when operating a motor vehicle. This applies whether the vehicle is a car, motorcycle, or boat. Penalties for a DUI conviction range from fines and driver’s license suspension to jail time and probation.
Answer: There are distinct differences between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI indictment. A felony DUI comprises more serious circumstances than simply exceeding blood alcohol limits. Felony DUI points to habitual offenders or a driver causing bodily harm to one or more individuals. If a driver is responsible for an accident resulting in injury or death to someone else, the driver can anticipate felony charges.
In addition, many states escalate a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony if a driver had a prior DUI offense within a certain period of time. This is typically seven years, although it depends upon the jurisdiction. If the driver has a previous felony DUI conviction – regardless of time elapsed since the prior conviction -- he or she will be charged with a felony DUI again.
What’s the difference in punishment for misdemeanor DUI versus felony DUI? It’s usually the harshness of the sentence. With misdemeanor DUI, you can expect a modest stay in county jail. With felony DUI, you can expect a longer term – to be served in prison.
The consequences of a felony conviction for DUI are truly life altering. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, it’s vital to hire a lawyer who practices DUI defense.
Top DUI defense attorneys stay on top of cutting edge defense strategies and technology so their clients will receive the best defense under the law. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.