DUI Charges: Is a DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony?
Wondering the answer to “Is a DUI a misdemeanor or felony?” If you’re arrested for drinking and driving, you must understand the ramifications. Whether your DUI is considered an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony depends on where you live and your legal history. Here are some factors that could determine whether your DUI is treated as a misdemeanor or a felony:
Driving infractions are minor offenses that won’t appear on your criminal record. They can usually be resolved by paying a fine or completing community service. It’s uncommon for DUIs to be considered an infraction. However, it’s possible in some states, like Wisconsin, where a first-time DUI (OWI) offense is considered a civil infraction, according to the Wisconsin Legislative Bureau.
Most first offense DUI charges will fall under the category of a Misdemeanor. Misdemeanor DUI offenses could result in the following consequences, according to Findlaw.com:
- Jail time or community service
Other restrictions that often accompany a misdemeanor DUI include:
- Loss of license
- Potential job denials
- Alcohol education classes
- Ignition interlock requirement
When Is a DUI Considered a Felony?
Wondering when is a DUI considered a felony? While the laws in every state are different, these are some common reasons that a DUI could be considered a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Harming Another Person
If you cause an automobile accident and another person is injured or killed, your DUI is likely to be elevated to a felony charge, including passengers in your vehicle. If the other vehicle caused the accident but you happened to be intoxicated at the time, it’s less likely that you’ll still get a felony charge.
Having a previous conviction of a DUI increases your chances of the next one becoming a felony DUI. Depending on which state you live in, it could include a DUI within the past 5 years, while others could be 10 or not have a time limitation at all. Other factors could include driving under the influence when your driving privileges have been revoked or if you were ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and were caught driving under the influence again.
High Blood Alcohol Concentration
A blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is the standard for driving under the influence in most states. The higher your blood alcohol concentration is, the more likely you will be to get a harsher conviction in many states.
Endangering a Child
If a child was in your car when you were caught drunk driving, your conviction will likely be more serious. This includes anyone under the age of 18, including your own children.
Breaking Other Laws
In some states, if you are convicted of driving under the influence while breaking other laws, the offense can be elevated to a felony. An example of this would be drunk driving with a suspended license.
Not Taking a Breath Test
If you refused to take a breath test after being pulled over for drinking and driving, most states will increase your punishment. Some consequences of not taking a breath test include taking away your license or mandatory jail time.
If you are convicted with a felony DUI, you will likely:
- Lose your right to vote
- Lose your driving privileges
- Lose child visitation privileges
- Be required to undergo counseling
- Be required to use an ignition interlock device and/or alcohol monitoring device
Getting a DUI is never a good thing, but it is something you can recover from by taking responsibility and striving to not make the same mistake again. RoadGuard Interlock, LLC (DUI) can help you get your life back after being convicted with a DUI charge. Our state-of-the-art ignition interlock devices can help you maintain your independence while rebuilding your livelihood. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you recover from a DUI.
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