Is DWI a Felony? Is Driving Under the Influence a Misdemeanor? RI DUI

A first-time drunk driving, (or, in some states, “DWI” – brief for “driving while intoxicated”) is generally charged as a misdemeanor, not a felony. But if someone was injured because of drunken driving, it will probably be raised to a felony – and when the victim dies, it could be raised to reckless homicide.

A felony is an extremely serious crime. This means that you will be sentenced to a term greater than twelve months in state jail. A misdemeanor is mostly known as a minor criminal offense. The maximum charges for a misdemeanor is twelve months in the state jail.

“Misdemeanor” and “felony” are psychologically charged words, but what do they indicate really? Whether a conviction eventually ends up as a misdemeanor or a felony is determined by the sort and amount of the punishment for the crime. Misdemeanors take the opportunity of incarceration in the state or local prison for one time or less; felonies usually cause a state prison term of more than a year.

If you’re charged with a felony, you will go to jail if you are convicted. That is why choosing the best RI DUI lawyer is so important. Your RI DUI lawyer will anticipate to raise every single possible defense to the charge.

Being convicted with felony DWI is very serious since it can have great impact on the near future. Not merely do the fines require large fines, prison, alcoholic treatment programs, alcoholic education, house arrest, probation, or community service, there’s also a great deal of personal fines. Any moment a felony exists on a person’s record, they have a problem finding a good location to live, obtaining insurance, being hired with a company that pays much better than average, and they will have this stigma surrounding them regarding being a criminal.

First-time offenders aren’t typically incurred with a felony unless there are specific aggravating factors present. For example, a person consuming alcohol while functioning an car with drugs inside, and a child as a passenger, can be an example of the way the charges will be increased on an initial criminal offense.

Felony DWI charges, however, are likely to be enforced on those that have been charged multiple times. Nonetheless, a misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony charge if another offense was being committed during the DWI arrest. Often, the discretion of the prosecutor is entrusted to determine what the charge should really be.

Whenever a person is charged with an RI DUI, the criminal offense is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor offense is a less serious criminal offense when compared to a felony, with less significant fines. Felony offenses can bring a full year or more in prison, plus large fines, while misdemeanor DUIs can cause a maximum of a year in jail.

What differentiates a felony criminal offense from a misdemeanor criminal offense depends totally on state regulations and the circumstances. This implies, for example, a driver might be charged with felony drunk driving in a single state, while if the same criminal offense took place in another state it could be charged as a misdemeanor. While state laws on felony DUI differ quite significantly, there are a few common factors that makes driving under the influence a felony rather than a misdemeanor. They are known as aggravating factors or aggravating circumstances.

Blood Alcoholic Level

A common way a misdemeanor drunk driving charge can turn into a felony drunk driving charge is whenever a driver has already had too much to drink, so much so that his / her blood alcohol content, or BAC, is above the legal level. For instance, most states set a BAC of .08 percent as the least level a person will need to have to be charged with driving under the influence. If someone’s BAC is significantly higher, say 0.16 percent or even more, that can result in a felony DUI charge.


Driving under the influence can be incurred as a felony if the driver was in an accident that led to injury or death. For instance, if you cause an accident while travelling with a BAC under the legal limit, you might not be charged with a felony DUI unless other factors can be found. However, if someone is harmed due to crash, that will raise it to a felony criminal defense. It doesn’t matter whether the injured person is a passenger or the drunk driver; any DUI incident that results in someone getting harmed or injured can result in a felony DUI charge.

Previous Offenses

Habitual or duplicate offenders often face felony DUI charges if indeed they have had earlier DUI convictions in a specified time period limit. For example, circumstances may categorize driving under the influence as a felony if the drivers has been convicted of three or even more DUIs within the prior seven years. However, some states will be more rigid about earlier offenses, and a person’s conviction in the prior a decade can raise the DUI criminal offense to a felony automatically.

Child in the Car

If you are found driving while impaired with others in the care, you may face a felony DUI charge rather than a misdemeanor. Driving with a child in the car is known as a felony offense in many states. A “child,” for the purposes of the DUI offense, is normally anybody under age 16.

Driving With a Suspended License

Somebody who drives with a suspended license can also face a felony DUI no matter other aggravating factors. When you yourself have your license suspended you are not allowed to operate a vehicle. If you’re found to be driving while impaired while on a license suspension, this is enough to raise the DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony offense.

When Do I Get Charged With A Felony DUI In RI?

(3)(i) Every person convicted of a third or subsequent violation within a five-year (5) period with a blood alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths of one percent (.08%) or above, but less than fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%), or whose blood alcohol concentration is unknown or who has a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance as defined in subdivision (b)(2), regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the driving under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, shall be guilty of a felony and be subject to a mandatory fine of four hundred ($400) dollars. The person’s driving license shall be suspended for a period of two (2) years to three (3) years, and the individual shall be sentenced to not less than one year and not more than three (3) years in jail. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge; however, not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively. The sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual; provided, however, that the court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans’ Administration, and shall prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system as provided in § 31-27-2.8.

(4) Whoever drives or otherwise operates any vehicle in the state while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance as defined in chapter 28 of title 21, or any combination of these, when his or her license to operate is suspended, revoked, or cancelled for operating under the influence of a narcotic drug or intoxicating liquor, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than three (3) years and by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars ($3,000). The court shall require alcohol and/or drug treatment for the individual; provided, the penalties provided for in § 31-27-2(d)(4) shall not apply to an individual who has surrendered his or her license and served the court-ordered period of suspension, but who, for any reason, has not had his or her license reinstated after the period of suspension, revocation, or suspension has expired; provided, further, the individual shall be subject to the provisions of subdivision (d)(2)(i), (d)(2)(ii), (d)(3)(i), (d)(3)(ii), or (d)(3)(iii) regarding subsequent offenses, and any other applicable provision of this section.

When Do I Get Charged With A Misdemeanor DUI In RI?

(a) Whoever drives or otherwise operates any vehicle in the state while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance as defined in chapter 28 of title 21, or any combination of these, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided in subdivision (d)(3), and shall be punished as provided in subsection (d).

(2) Whoever drives, or otherwise operates, any vehicle in the state with a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance as defined within chapter 28 of title 21, as shown by analysis of a blood or urine sample, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in subsection (d).

RI Drunk Driving Laws

No matter what, you should contact an RI DUI lawyer to come to your counsel if you are charged with drunk driving in Rhode Island.

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