Individuals who get accused of DUI may get misdemeanor or felony charges. This can be confusing and can cause panic when the charges are discovered. It is important to keep in mind that charges are not the same as convictions. All individuals who are accused of crimes have legal rights, which include being entitled to a fair trial.

There are countless cases involving alleged DUIs that have resulted in dismissals or reduced charges. It is important for accused criminals to know the potential ramifications of guilty pleas and convictions. A DUI attorney can be used as a resource to understand pending charges, build a criminal defense, negotiate plea bargains, and explain possible outcomes. The following points identify factors that can lead to a DUI charge being considered a felony offense.

Were there passengers?

There are many states that have laws to protect minors that are in a vehicle with alleged drunk drivers. The age limit varies, and in some states, the driver might get a separate DUI charge for each underage person. If the DUI laws in a state count multiple DUIs in a certain period of time as felony offenses, one incident could easily become felonious. Parents driving with their children could face harsh penalties for having them in the vehicle during a DUI arrest.

Did a car accident occur?

A DUI charge may occur when officers get called to respond to the scene of an accident and discover who appears to be impaired. If the driver consents to tests such as field sobriety and breath tests, this may seem to further confirm the allegation. Officers are allowed to conclude that drivers are under the influence even if drivers do not confirm or agree to tests. Sometimes defendants assume that taking tests means that they cannot win their DUI cases. However, there are DUI attorneys who have tactfully defended individuals. They can use a variety of strategies to challenge evidence presented by prosecutors. If serious bodily injuries or death occurs due to an alleged DUI accident, the driver will likely be charged with felony DUI.

Does the driver have prior convictions?

Most states have statutes that classify DUI offenses based on prior convictions. Some of these states have a "lookback period." This involves determining how long it has been since the last DUI or how many DUIs have occurred within a preset time frame. Multiple DUIs do not always mean that individuals will face felony charges. A judge can use their own discretion in high and aggravated cases and review a defendant's entire driving record for prior DUIs.