If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may end up facing a DUI charge. DUI charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony; the circumstances of your case will determine the specific charges. When charged as a felony, a DUI carries stiffer penalties than when charged as a misdemeanor. Felonies are punishable by over a year in jail. If you have been arrested for DUI, you may be wondering whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A DUI attorney in the jurisdiction in which you were pulled over can help you determine whether your particular situation will result in felony charges.
The penalties for DUI charges, which can include fines, jail sentences, alcohol counseling, and other requirements, vary greatly between states. Some states refer to such cases as aggravated DUI rather than felony DUI charges, but it is important to realize that both are felony charges, and therefore carry more severe penalties than misdemeanors. When you are pulled over for a DUI, it is crucial that you contact a DUI lawyer immediately to reduce the chances that you will be charged with felony DUI.
There are certain factors that can elevate DUI charges to felonies. All states have similar laws for repeat offenders; if this is not your first DUI offense, you will likely be charged with a felony. In some cases, blood alcohol level may also impact whether DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Previous charges of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault also elevate DUI charges, especially if these offenses were committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the current DUI charges are related to an incident of vehicular assault or homicide, they will likely be felony DUI charges. If these additional felony actions are involved, it is crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney, not only for the DUI charges but for any other charges related to your arrest.
Depending on the particulars of your case, a conviction for felony DUI can carry a fine of up to $20,000 or even more, and a jail term of up to 10 years, in addition to driver’s license suspension, an ignition interlock device, required classes, and other requirements, not to mention a felony conviction on your criminal record. Because of the severity of these penalties, it is essential that you hire a DUI attorney to defend you. Such an attorney can help you get the charges or penalties reduced by negotiating for you to plead to a lesser offense rather than being found guilty of a felony DUI. A plea bargain may be able to significantly reduce your penalties, but you’ll need a skilled DUI lawyer to make it happen.