DUI: Felony or Misdemeanor?

There’s no question that driving under the influence of alcohol, also known as a DUI offense, is a serious crime.  However, depending on a number of factors, your DUI may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.  A misdemeanor is a less serious offense that rarely carries the possibility of prison time. A misdemeanor charge may even be eligible for removal from your record.  A felony, on the other hand, is a serious offense that carries the possibility of prison time and is considered to be on par with murder, bank robbery, and other types of very serious crimes against other people.

How do You Know if Your DUI is a Felony or Misdemeanor?

How do you know if DUI is a felony in your case?  There are a number of ways to tell:

  • Most states have set penalties for driving under the influence as an automatic felony charge – not only because the crime is so serious, but because if DUI is a felony, it is a much better deterrent to potential drunk drivers to know that they may go to jail or have very serious penalties imposed on them. 
  • DUI is a felony in most cases and in most states regardless of the circumstances under which you have received the DUI, such as your blood alcohol content, how you were arrested, etc.
  • DUI is a felony if you have multiple convictions.  Even in states where DUI is a misdemeanor offense because of a low blood alcohol content or when it is a first offense, DUI is a felony automatically after your first offense becomes your second, third, or subsequent offense. 

Felony convictions are usually served at a state prison, so if your DUI was considered to be a misdemeanor, you will be serving your time at a smaller county prison or regional jail.  State prison sentences are no joke – they are harsh and you will be incarcerated with individuals who have committed very serious crimes. This means that because DUI is a felony in many cases, you will want to avoid driving under the influence.          

Getting Help

You will want to contact a DUI lawyer to find out if your DUI is a felony offense, or something less.  In many cases, a felony conviction will bar you from potential employment in certain fields, and may have lasting repercussions on your ability to get car insurance, find a job, or get clearance to do certain job-related tasks.  DUI is a felony that, as the public service anti-drunk driving advertisements say, “you really can’t afford.”

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