The only surefire way to avoid a criminal charge for DUI is to avoid drinking and driving. Unfortunately, since many people make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, you never know when you could find yourself in serious trouble with the law.
Although every type of DUI charge is serious, as it can impact your life in many ways, a misdemeanor is the lowest level. With this type of charge, you're less likely to face a serious penalty, such as jail time.
However, there are times when a misdemeanor DUI can turn into a felony. Here are three circumstances when this could happen:
- Your DUI causes injury or death: For example, if you cause an accident that injures another person, such as a pedestrian, prosecutors may seek to elevate your misdemeanor charge to a felony.
- Previous DUI conviction: Most first-time DUIs are charged as a misdemeanor, but things change if you already have a conviction (or more than one) on your record. The legal system is not nearly as kind to habitual drunk drivers, as it shows that you didn't learn your lesson the first time.
- Issues with your driver's license: This can include things such as driving on a revoked or suspended license, regardless of the original cause of the punishment.
If you're charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, it's better to face misdemeanor charges than a felony. In New York, for example, a misdemeanor DUI is most likely to result in a license suspension and/or fine, although you could face up to one year in jail.
Conversely, if your misdemeanor charge turns into a felony, you could face up to four years in prison.
What should you do after a DUI arrest?
Once the dust begins to settle, collect all of the information pertaining to your arrest and subsequent processing. This will provide you with a clear idea of where things stand and what comes next.
This is also a good time to learn more about common DUI defense strategies, as the right one can help you avoid a conviction and the punishment that follows.
Knowledge of your legal rights is a must, as it's up to you to take steps to protect yourself.
Browse our website and blog for more information on DUI charges, defense strategies and other details pertaining to your legal rights.