Most states regard DUI as a misdemeanor, but some circumstances can raise charges to a felony level. A felony DUI conviction carries stronger penalties and more enduring consequences than misdemeanor cases do, but every state’s rules on felony DUI are different. Below is an explanation of situations that can result in felony DUI charges.
High BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
Every state has a .08 per BAC rule. If a driver’s BAC is .08 or greater, the state assumes that the person is in violation of the statute prohibiting drunk driving. Moreover, states often elevate charges to felony level if chemical testing reveals that the driver’s BAC is above a set level (about .16 in most areas).
Severe Bodily Harm
Some states raise DUI charges to felony level if the motorist causes harm to someone else. In some cases, prosecutors have the power to decide whether to charge a DUI case with bodily harm as a felony or a misdemeanor. In some areas, prosecutors must prove that the driver caused the other person’s injuries for felony charges to stick.
States generally charge drivers with a felony DUI if they have had prior convictions within a certain time frame. The period and the number of offenses can vary by state, but some jurisdictions apply felony charges if a person has just one DUI conviction within ten years.
DUI With Children Present
Many states’ laws make it a felony to drive drunk while children are in the vehicle. The state of New York passed such a law after a young girl died in a DUI crash. These laws typically apply when a child 15 or younger is present, but drivers should check state laws to be sure.
DUI on a Revoked, Suspended or Restricted License
Many states apply felony charges if a driver gets a DUI while on a restricted, revoked or suspended a license. For instance, Illinois law makes it a felony punishable by up to 3 years in a state prison.
Find a DUI Lawyer
If someone is arrested for driving under the influence, they should hire a drunk driving lawyer in Vermont. These lawyers will evaluate all evidence, including sobriety test results, to ensure that the client’s rights are protected. It is important to talk to a drunk driving lawyer in Vermont who knows local laws, and drivers can visit Sawyerlegal.com to schedule no-obligation initial consultations.
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