Your Legal Rights at Work

When Your Driving Under The Influence Situation Just Got More Serious

by Lewis Hamilton

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge can carry extremely serious consequences. The way the laws view DUI charges has become increasingly strict in recent years. While no one can argue that those who drink and drive should be punished, being arrested is not always an indication of guilt in the matter. When it comes to defending yourself against unwarranted charges, the level of those charges can affect the potential punishment a great deal. Read on to find out how an uncomplicated DUI charge can turn into a felony and what it might mean for you as you fight for exoneration.

DUI Felony Issues vs. Misdemeanor Issues

Most first-time DUI offenders end up being charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors, however, can still carry serious penalties like jail time and the loss of driving privileges. Usually, offenders who have already been convicted of one or more DUI offenses and are arrested within a certain period of time can be charged with a felony. For instance, if you are arrested in Florida and charged with a DUI for the third or fourth time within 10 years, you are facing a felony DUI charge.

Accidents and Bodily Harm

DUI arrests that occur after an accident where someone was injured may incur felony charges. The person injured might be you, a passenger in your car, or someone in another involved car. Even if the other driver is at fault, some states will charge you with a felony DUI just for being involved in the wreck. The thinking is that those who are under the influence are not as able to avoid wrecks by taking evasive actions.

The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Factor

It all states, driving with a measurable BAC of at least .08% will garner you an arrest. If that number climbs higher you are at risk of being charged with a felony.

Other Aggravating Factors

Other situations that might call for DUI felony charges include:

  • The presence of a minor-aged child at the time of the arrest.
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked, or restricted (hardship) driver's license, no matter the reason for the loss of driving privileges.
  • Being charged with other crimes like fleeing from law enforcement or felony level speeding.

Felony DUI Punishments to Expect

With a conviction, you can expect the misdemeanor punishments to rise in length, amount, and scope. Some states have a mandatory law that sends DUI felony offenders to prison for years. The loss of a driver's license is common and a felony charge often extends the time period before a new license can be applied for. Hardship licenses are not as common with felony convictions. Fines are often much higher, probation periods longer, and community and education requirements are more stringent.

Speak to a DUI lawyer about your case today.