Every crime is classified based on its severity. Crimes classified as misdemeanors are typically considered less serious than those classified as felonies are. As a result, associated punishments are not usually as severe. Many people are surprised to learn that being charged driving under the influence labels an individual a criminal and even more surprised to learn that a DUI may be a felony.
Misdemeanor vs. felony
Both misdemeanors and felonies include crimes committed against property, people, or the state. The difference lies in the severity of the crime and what is considered severe may vary by country or even state. Since felonies are considered more severe, associated punishments typically involve steeper fines, longer periods in jail, or both. Punishments for misdemeanors often include rehabilitation, community service, or other alternatives to time in jail.
An individual who is drunk in public and acting unacceptably may be charged with public intoxication, which is a misdemeanor. Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a crime in every state in the U.S. and is considered one of the most serious driving offenses. Despite this, first-time DUI offenses are usually classified as misdemeanors, rendering punishments less severe.
As with many areas of the law, there are exceptions. Particular circumstances will elevate even a first-time DUI to felony status, increasing the severity of the potential punishment. Some states classify drivers whose blood-alcohol content is at least 0.08 percent as felony DUI offenders. If an individual driving under the influence of any amount of alcohol injures or kills someone, a felony charge may be leveled.
What To Do
After being arrested for DUI, use DUIRights.com to be matched with an experienced DUI lawyer in your state. Complete the online form requesting a free DUI arrest evaluation and an experienced lawyer will be in touch promptly. After reviewing the case, this attorney will explain whether a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge has been made and will discuss the potential consequences.
If there is a possibility of beating a DUI charge, particularly if a felony charge has been leveled, it is wise to plead not guilty. Work with the DUI lawyer to build a strong defense that will put reasonable doubt into the minds of the jury. Exercising your rights to a fair trial and bringing to light errors made during the DUI arrest is the best way to prevent a DUI charge from tarnishing your record.