Being charged with a DUI is worrisome because it comes with penalties on your driver’s license, jail time, and between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars in fines. Also, the consequences of a DUI can be with you for a long time, preventing you from finding gainful employment, leaving you unable to find housing to purchase or rent, being denied access to education, and more.
However, the DUI attorneys at Weber Law want to remind you that the situation can escalate when you are charged with a felony DUI. Read on to find out more about what this implies.
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What penalties does a felony DUI carry?
Penalties become much more severe when you are charged with a felony DUI. However, the most important difference lies in the amount of time you will end up spending in jail. Although you may get up to a year in jail for a standard DUI charge, you may only spend a couple of days in jail after all is said and done. When felony DUI charges are brought forward, you can expect to spend a considerable length of time behind bars.
What circumstances lead to felony DUI charges?
Although DUI laws vary by state, most states do consider that when there are aggravating factors, a DUI becomes a felony. Some of these circumstances may be:
Having Previous DUI Convictions
When you have at least two prior DUI convictions, you may be subject to felony charges. Some states may forgive prior DUIs if enough time has gone by since they happened, while other states keep them active no matter how long ago they took place.
Having Previous Felony DUI Convictions
When you meet the conditions that turn your DUI into a felony DUI, it will stay on your record no matter how much time has gone by since the last conviction. If you are charged again, it will immediately become a felony DUI.
Carrying Minor Passengers
When a minor is a passenger in your car and you get pulled over for a DUI, your penalties will increase, turning it into a felony DUI. Even in states that do not have specific laws regarding minor passengers during a DUI, the judge might charge you with child endangerment during your hearing.
Drinking while Driving a School Bus
Because school bus drivers’ main responsibility is to transport children, they are held to a higher standard. When they are caught driving under the influence, they will usually face very severe penalties. While most of the population is over the legal blood alcohol level at 0.8%, school drivers cannot exceed 0.4%.
Depending on the state where the DUI takes place, you may be subject to all or some of the above points. Or you may face an even stricter definition of DUI and thus face more extensive penalties.
What are the charges when the DUI involves an injury or death?
When there are serious injuries or death because of your driving under the influence, you will be charged with a felony DUI since these are considered aggravating factors. In some states, the driver can be charged with a separate felony offense if they have a high blood alcohol level while driving. This may be a charge of vehicular assault or battery. If someone died, as a result, the charges could be a vehicular homicide, murder, or manslaughter. If this has happened to you, you should reach out to a knowledgeable DUI attorney since you will be facing at least a year in jail and many other stiff penalties.