Misdemeanor DUI vs Felony DUI

Misdemeanor DUI vs Felony DUI


What is the difference between a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI?


Whether or not the DUI is a misdemeanor or felony depends on your case. The two main avenues considered are: severity of the situation, and how many times you’ve been charged for a DUI in the past.

Both Are Serious Offenses

Knowing the difference between DUI and felony DUI is important, especially if you have been charged or convicted with either one. While both are considered very serious offenses, the latter carries with it much harsher penalties in the courtroom. Furthermore, handling the details of such a case without the help of a knowledgeable Rhode Island DUI lawyer can do more harm than good in many cases.

The Difference

The legal system can be a very confusing thing for the average citizen. Whether charged with a regular DUI or with a felony DUI, numerous life-altering consequences can take place in and out of the courtroom as a result. Understanding the details of the charge or conviction therein is essential to handling the case properly.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest, a DUI can be measured as either a misdemeanor or felony. There are numerous factors considered by the judge before making such a ruling, including whether an accident with another vehicle, person, or property has taken place or not. Moreover, first time offenses are typically judged less stringently, especially if no injuries or property damage occurred. In general, prosecution usually depends on the law of the state in which the charges were made, as well as on the discretion of the magistrate in charge of the hearing.

While many states have similar laws regarding DUI (whether misdemeanor or felony based), each area of the country handles things differently. In Rhode Island, for example, the courts are less likely to charge a person with felony DUI unless serious damages or repetitive offenses are made. Some of the most common differences between misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI are as follows, regardless of the state in which the charges are filed:

  • Misdemeanor DUI is considered less serious than felony DUI.
  • Felony DUI generally requires the convicted person to serve at least 1 year in jail or prison.
  • Fines are typically imposed for both types of DUI. However, felony DUIs tend to cost a lot more.
  • Felony convictions of any kind prevent the person from having the right to serve on a jury or vote in elections.
  • Felony DUI convictions often make it difficult for the person to find employment, housing, or public assistance.

The Most Common Consequences of Felony DUI

Aside from the consequences listed above, other strict penalties may be applied to the convicted by the court handling the case. One of the most common penalties involves the use of an ignition interlock system being installed in that person’s personal vehicle, requiring them to satisfy a breathalyzer to start or drive their car. Consequences are always designed to ensure the convicted person consistently maintain a clean driving record while always operating their vehicle sober.

Hiring an Attorney

Such penalties and consequences are often placed on the convicted person whether they were charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI. If you or someone you know was charged or convicted with a misdemeanor or felony DUI, it’s imperative that you contact an RI DUI lawyer like Attorney Daniel Griffin for assistance as soon as possible.

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