While many driving under the influence offenses are classified as misdemeanors, this doesn’t mean that they should not be taken seriously. At The Edge Law Firm, we provide the same careful preparation to all of our clients, no matter how their charges are classified.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, a DUI can fall into one of two categories: misdemeanor or felony. In general, as long as it is your first offense and you were not involved in an accident, the charge will be considered a misdemeanor. As the less serious of the two charges, a misdemeanor carries a maximum $1,000 fine and jail time from 10 days to one year.
On the other hand, if you were arrested for DUI after being involved in an auto accident or you have been convicted of a previous DUI within the last ten years, your offense may be treated as a felony. The same also applies if you are facing child endangerment charges for having an underage passenger in your vehicle at the time of your arrest.
Unlike a misdemeanor, the penalties for a felony offense include a minimum one-year prison sentence and up to $5,000 in fines. Your driving privileges may also be revoked for up to eight years, and before they can be reinstated, you will probably have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle (forcing you to perform a breathalyzer anytime you attempt to start your vehicle).
Types of DUI Charges
While most individuals who are arrested for driving under the influence are charged with a standard misdemeanor, in certain instances, the charge will be reduced. For example, if you showed signs of impairment but had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.06% or 0.07% (slightly below the 0.08% limit), you may be charged for driving while impaired (DWI), rather than DUI. The penalties for DWI are less severe than DUI, with the maximum sentence being a $500 fine, six-month jail sentence and 30-day license suspension. If you were in a parked car at the time of your arrest, you may be charged with actual physical control of a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (APC). While an APC charge may seem less serious than a standard DUI, the penalties are the same for both charges.