Under most state laws, a DUI charge is usually filed as a misdemeanor. However, there are certain circumstances in which drunk driving can result in felony charges. These include: repeat DUI charges, cases where the DUI resulted in death/serious injury of another person, and cases involving severe recklessness.
Also, cases involving intentionally caused injuries can result in even more serious legal charges. For instance, if a person intentionally injured another person while driving drunk, or if they intentionally destroyed property with their car while drunk, it can result in longer sentences or increased fines.
Can I Get the Sentence Reduced in a DUI Hearing?
In some cases, it can be possible to have a sentence reduced in a DUI hearing. This can be done during the plea bargaining stages of trial. Some courts allow plea bargaining to occur at any time, while other courts have a set time for such negotiations. This may involve a showing of facts such as:
- It was a first time DUI offense
- The drunk driver did not actually cause any injuries or property damage
- The driver was forced under the threat of harm to drive
- The driver was not actually drunk at the time of arrest (this often happens as a result of faulty breathalyzer tests or other field sobriety test errors)
Thus, a number of factors can influence the way that sentencing works out in a DUI case. It is often possible to have the charges changed from a felony DUI case into a misdemeanor DUI case, which would have a major effect on the defendant’s sentence.
Is DUI the Same as DWI?
Some states use the term DWI instead of DUI. DWI stands for "driving while intoxicated". In most cases, these two terms are used interchangeably. However, the term DWI can sometimes include intoxication resulting from drug use, whereas DUI usually only refers to alcohol intoxication.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with DUI Felony Charges?
Felony DUI charges can result in severe penalties such as a prison sentence, as well as various amounts of criminal fines. You may need to hire a DUI/DWI lawyer if you need help defending against DUI charges. Your attorney can represent you in court and can advise you on what steps to take during the process.