Even though an ordinary driving under the influence (DUI) charge is serious and can carry some severe punishments, things may get worse for some drivers. If any of the below are connected to a DUI case, the charges can go from being a misdemeanor to a felony in an instant. To find out what circumstances could ramp up DUI charges considerably, read on.
When a drunk driver manages to hurt a passenger, other drivers, a pedestrian, or even law enforcement, expect a felony DUI. Since people under the influence have diminished faculties, accidents can occur easily and innocent people could be hurt in the process. If death should also occur, the charges could be a very serious form of manslaughter. It does matter who was at fault, at least in some states. For example, if another driver caused the accident but one of the victims had a measurable alcohol content on their breath or in their blood, they might only be charged with a misdemeanor DUI.
Driving Without a Suspended License
This is an unfortunate but common occurrence, particularly among those who have previously lost their license due to a previous DUI. However, if you are caught driving while intoxicated and don't have a valid drivers' license, you can be charged with a felony in some instances. It doesn't have to be due to a previous DUI, however.
Previous DUI Issues
The law does not look kindly on those who re-offend. If you have previously been arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI, your charges can automatically be raised to the felony level if it happens within a certain time period. For example, a second DUI within 6 years might be considered a felony.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) results from the breathalyzer can also affect the potential for a felony charge. In all states, anything at or exceeding .08% is considered too intoxicated to drive. If the BAC is more than the legal limit, a felony may be in the works.
Minors on Board
If a minor-aged child happens to be in the vehicle when the driver is arrested for DUI, not only can that make for a felony DUI charge, but it may also affect child custody issues and garner additional child endangerment charges.
No matter what the level of DUI charges, this is a serious criminal matter and those who get convicted can face a loss of driving privileges, expensive fees and fines, and even incarceration. Don't wait – talk to a personal injury lawyer that practices DUI law and find out how you can have your charges reduced or dropped. You can get past this issue as long as you seek out professional legal help.