What To Do When DUI Becomes A Felony?

by cbennett on October 17, 2012

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Everybody dreads the idea of being charged with any criminal offense, so most people’s hearts start pounding out of their chest if they’ve had a few drinks and see flashing blue lights behind them on the road. Getting a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is a serious offense which can lead to severe fines, probation, community service and even jail time. All of these penalties can be bestowed upon a person on their first misdemeanor DUI, but penalties are much more severe if someone manages to get a felony DUI. There are several instances in which a DUI can be charged as a felony, and avoiding these at all costs is imperative.

Multiple DUI’s over Period of Time

According to our Massachusetts DUI attorney, a person can very often be charged with misdemeanor DUI’s several times in their life without facing felonious charges, but if they get these DUI’s during a certain period of time, they may easily be charged with felony DUI. Many areas have laws stating that if a person obtains four to five DUI’s in a ten year period, they can be charged with a felony, but these rules vary wildly by state. Some areas are even worse when it comes to repeat offenders. In Florida, for instance, a driver’s third DUI in a ten year period will be charged as a felony. This makes it imperative that anyone who has been convicted of driving under the influence learn their lesson and move on.

DUI Causing Great Bodily Injury or Death

One of the most common ways people are charged with a felony DUI is if they cause great bodily harm or death to another person. This can apply whether the other individual was a passenger in their car or another driver on the road. The charges can actually become even worse if an accident causes the death of another person; a charge of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide and even second-degree murder can stem from an individual’s death in relation to a DUI. It is also pertinent to know that an individual can be charged with a felony in certain areas if they cause serious property damage through their drunken and negligent driving.

Excessive Blood Alcohol Content

There aren’t many things that can turn a driving under the influence charge into a felony, and there are even fewer instances in which this could occur without gross negligence on the part of the driver. The Federal Government coerced every state in America to change the legal driving level of blood alcohol content (BAC) to .08 percent by threatening each state’s highway funding. This led some states to impose strict felony laws without a person having numerous DUIs over a certain period.

Many states at one point increased penalties for drivers who have a BAC that is excessively higher than the legal limit. Some of these states have since abolished these penalties, but Idaho can actually charge a person with felony DUI on only their second offense in ten years. A driver who blows over a .20 percent on a breathalyzer after having previously blown a similarly high level will be charged with a felony. This is not to be taken lightly considering the fact that the felony can lead to a ten year prison sentence in Idaho.

There is no type of driving under the influence charge that can be considered a ‘light’ matter, but an individual may engage in behaviors that can easily make these charges worse. Any felony is punishable by over one year in prison, and this includes felony DUI. Due to the nature of drunken driving laws, it is imperative that a person hire an attorney to represent them in any DUI case. This is especially true if the individual is charged with a felony DUI. Driving under the influence can destroy innocent lives and lead to a serious stint in prison for the perpetrator, so avoiding driving after consuming alcohol is the best way to stay safe.

Chris Bennett is a legal researcher and freelance writer for Jack Diamond, a Massachusetts DUI attorney. A Felony DUI charge is a serious issue and conviction will wreak havoc on your life. It is imperative that you consult the right attorney to provide a comprehensive defense for you specific DUI charge.




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