DUI (driving under the influence) charges are normally misdemeanors but in many situations they are seen as being gross misdemeanor offenses. In the event you are convicted you can be faced with license suspensions, jail, fines and many other penalties.
The big problem with DUI charges is that in many situations they can be upgraded to felonies. According to Winters & Yonker, in the event you commit over 3 DUIs in 10 years or drunken actions led to serious injuries or death, the DUI charge turns into a felony.
Why Is This Serious?
A felony is seen as a serious offense that is higher in severity than the misdemeanors. As a simple example, the most common examples of felonies are rape, murder and robbery. A felonious action will normally be punished by a minimum of 1 year in prison but it can even go as high as life in prison.
Multiple DUI Charges
There are different laws that apply in different states about the number of DUI convictions that will lead to the felony charge. The most common situation is that in which having 3 such charges in a period of ten years will lead to the felony charge. The fourth DUI charge in such a time span is the one labeled as a felony, together with all the other charges that may appear.
If you are charged with the DUI after being convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, it is still a felony. That is even if you were never convicted or were fined of driving under the influence. Severe punishment is almost guaranteed in this case.
DUI Charge When A Person Is Seriously Injured Or Dies
When driving intoxicated and hitting another person, causing death or serious injury, the felony charge applies. We officially have these labeled as being vehicular assault, which is a class B felony or as vehicular homicide, which is a class A felony. An offender will need to deal with really high fines and the jail sentence can be much higher than what many expect.
When To Hire A DUI Attorney
Generally speaking, whenever you are charged with a DUI offense it is a really good idea to contact a specialized attorney. That is because there is the possibility that you will get a lower fine or that the charge can be thrown out since there were some legal problems that appeared. On the other side, in the event the DUI charge has upgraded to a felony, you want to always hire a specialist DUI attorney.
Keep in mind that not all DUI attorneys are going to be really good for your case. You want to be guaranteed that the one you hire is really good and that his/her track record is as on the plus side as possible. In the event that is not the case, the representation you receive may not be that great. Hiring a highly experienced DUI attorney is always better, even if you are going to pay more, especially when faced with felonies since there is the jail sentence possibility.