Is First DUI a Felony?

If you've recently been arrested for DUI, you may be wondering: Is a first DUI charge a felony? The answer to this question depends on several different variables. Each case is different, and their may be many possible outcomes of a DUI arrest.

In most cases, a first DUI is not a felony DUI charge, but rather a misdemeanor charge with certain mandatory penalties like driver's license suspension, fines and other penalties.

Some circumstances, however, can result in a felony DUI charge. Some of the considerations under state law when judging whether a DUI charge is a felony DUI charge or a misdemeanor are:

  • Whether anyone was hurt or killed as a result of drunk driving.
  • The blood alcohol content of the charged driver.
  • The age of the driver, and any passengers in the vehicle
  • Whether the defendant has prior DUI convictions on record.

If you are facing DUI charges you may want clear answers about your case and how to protect yourself. Get answers with a local DUI defense lawyer. For a free case evaluation with a drunk driving attorney near you, simply complete the free form on this page.

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Misdemeanor First DUI Charge

A misdemeanor DUI charge, the most common charge given for a first DUI conviction, typically means a lesser set of penalties. Generally, if there is any time spent in jail, it takes place at the county jail, rather than at the state prison that a felony conviction would mean.

The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI conviction can vary depending on the state DUI laws. Usually they involve a mandatory driver's license suspension period, fines, alcohol treatment or education programs and other penalties.

However, in some states even a first misdemeanor drunk driving charge may result in the use of an ignition interlock device on your car.

Drunk Driving Manslaughter

Was someone killed in an accident that was caused by drunk driving? If so, the charge could potentially become DUI manslaughter. If this is the case, a first DUI could result in a felony charge.

DUI manslaughter laws can vary depending on the state where the offense took place, but generally speaking it refers to a drunk driving incident that results in the death of someone else.

The charge may be considered with gross negligence or ordinary negligence. Gross negligence means that a driver drove extremely recklessly while drunk, and ordinary negligence means the driver was impaired, but was not extremely negligent.

The DUI manslaughter charge is a felony, and can be handed out even if it is a first DUI conviction. The sentence in such cases if convicted could be in the range of a few to many years in prison, as well as additional penalties.

Felony or Not, Fight Your Drunk Driving Charges

Regardless of what type of drunk driving charges you are facing, you can take steps to defend yourself. Even a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction may haunt you for years, costing you lots of money in fees, fines and lost job opportunities.

To learn more about your options for fighting your first DUI charges, speak with a local DUI defense lawyer. Complete the free form on this page and we'll connect you right away.

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