Did you know that, in some cases, driving under the influence (DUI) could be considered a felony offense? In fact, depending on the laws in your area, even a first-time offender could be charged with a felony and face the life-altering ramifications of a drunk driving felony record as a result.
Although DUI laws vary from one state to another, there are a few common factors that will undoubtedly affect whether your DUI is considered a misdemeanor or a felony: your blood alcohol content (BAC), your prior record, whether you were involved in an accident, the status of your license, and the age of any passenger(s) traveling with you at the time of your arrest.
In the United States, a driver is considered impaired if he or she has a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. As a result, if you are arrested with a BAC well above this limit (usually 0.16% or higher), you may face additional penalties for your actions. You can also expect a more severe punishment if you have one or more DUI convictions on your record, as repeat offenders are subjected to much harsher sentencing guidelines than a first-time offender.
Driving with Suspended License
If you were involved in an auto accident, your offense could also be classified as a felony. To warrant a felony charge, however, the prosecution must first prove that the accident was caused by your impairment. For example, if you were driving recklessly (such as speeding or running a red light), you may be held accountable for any injuries and/or property damage that occurred in the collision. A DUI is also more likely to be considered a felony if you did not have a license or it was suspended at the time of your arrest.
Finally, if you were arrested while carrying a person under the age of 14, you may be charged with felony DUI and/or face additional criminal charges for child endangerment. In some states, you could even face multiple charges for each underage passenger.
Penalties of Felony DWI
A felony DUI conviction not only carries tougher penalties, but it can also lead to long-term consequences. Your conviction will remain on your criminal record permanently—where it can jeopardize countless employment, housing, and education opportunities in the future. What’s more, as a convicted felon, you may lose a number of personal freedoms, including your right to vote, carry a weapon, and travel outside of the country. Plus, regardless of whether your offense is classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, you can expect to pay substantially more for auto insurance if you have a DUI conviction on your record.
Despite the consequences of a drunk driving conviction, hope is not lost. Every year, countless DUI cases are dismissed or reduced in court—and with help from a skilled DUI defense attorney, you are far more likely to become one of them. Unlike attorneys who offer a broad range of legal services, lawyers who handle DUI cases exclusively have inside knowledge of the field and are well-versed in the most successful tactics for challenging a drunk driving charge.
To discuss your case with a skilled DUI defense attorney in your area, complete our online form today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
Don’t Spend the Rest of Your Life in Fear. You or someone you know has been charged with a DUI. At first, you may think that this will affect your life forever and that it will always be there looming on your permanent record. But did you know that with the right DUI attorney, a DUI charge may be completely eliminated from public record? This process is known as “expungement”. This is simply the deletion of a record from government files.
Following a DUI expungement, you do not have to note a DUI conviction on an employee application, educational institution or government agency. And a DUI conviction will not show up on background check of an individual’s public record.
Some states do allow DUI expungements to be considered in later criminal proceedings as proof of prior conviction. It is important to speak to an attorney familiar with your state’s specific DUI laws.
There are some states that allow juveniles to have their DUI convictions expunged. This is taken into consideration if the juvenile’s offense was mildly serious and if she or he remained out of trouble with the law for a long period of time.
Expungement can occur after a specified time following a DUI conviction. This is usually because the courts want to determine whether or not you have fulfilled certain court imposed obligations.
Why Should I Want my DWI Record Expunged?
Many employers now do background checks before hiring. Imagine not landing your dream job because of a “smudge” on your public record. That “smudge” may not have to be there depending on the circumstances. If found “not guilty”, that record can commonly be expunged. Even if you are convicted it may be possible to delete the incident from public record.
DUI cases can ruin your career, raise insurance rates and remain a source of embarrassment for you and your family. However, as long as you find a qualified defense attorney to represent you, you still have a fighting chance!
It is important to contact a qualified DUI attorney immediately. Maybe expungement could be for you.