If you’ve ever gone out drinking with friends, you’ve likely been tempted to drive home despite being under the influence. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime in all 50 states and can lead to some serious consequences if stopped by the police. However, for many people, what those consequences are is somewhat of a mystery. Is it as simple as paying a speeding ticket or is actual jail time involved?
Is A DUI Considered A Felony Or Misdemeanor?
In most instances, a DUI is labeled as a misdemeanor but only if it is your first-time offense. During these initial instances, the majority of states label drunk driving charges as traffic offenses or a misdemeanor. However, there are times when a DUI can be elevated to that a felony.
What Can Cause A DUI To Become A Felony?
#1. Prior DUI Convictions
As mentioned, you only get one bite of the misdemeanor apple when it comes to driving under the influence. If you are found in the system to have been convicted of a DUI in the past, the charge is immediately elevated to that of a felony charge.
The amount of time that must elapse between the first DUI conviction and any preceding convictions can vary from state to state. Some states say that any past conviction found within 5 years is enough to warrant an elevated status, while other states go by 10 years. In other states still, there is no time limit, regarding any person that ever has a past conviction as subject to a charge elevation.
While this too is subject to change based on the state itself, generally the number of prior convictions you can have is only one, with any more being regarded as subject to an elevated charge.
#2. Bodily Harm
In the instance where you’ve either harmed or killed a person thanks to your drunk driving, the charges are instantly moved up to a felony. Generally, it is required that you must be the direct cause of the accident such as hitting a person as a result of running a red light and getting into an accident.
#3. High-Level Blood-Alcohol Concentration
The third big way to have your charge elevated is by exceeding the standard blood alcohol content levels for impairment. As these numbers are meant as the standard, if you are stopped with a blood alcohol content level significantly higher, you can immediately be given a felony charge.
What Can I Do?
If you’ve previously been stopped for a DUI in the past, you must speak to your lawyers for assistance as soon as possible. The DUI lawyer LA has available throughout the city has many different legal experts. By speaking to a lawyer and having them fight on your behalf, you can reduce your sentencing as well as the severity of the trial at large.