With laws differing from one state to other, it’s least surprising that people want to know whether DUI is a felony or a misdemeanor in their jurisdiction.
Generally referred to as drunk driving, driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is defined as the act of operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Drunk driving statistics reveal how gruesome this crime has become, with the number of fatalities attributed to it crossing the 10,000 mark consecutively for the last three years.
Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor
According to the federal law, ‘felony’ refers to any criminal offense which is punishable by death or imprisonment for more than a year, whereas ‘misdemeanor’ refers to any criminal offense which is punishable by imprisonment for a year or less.
DUI – Felony or Misdemeanor?
The penalties for drunk driving tend to differ from one area of jurisdiction to another. In some areas, it is considered a serious crime, and in some, it is considered a serious crime only in the event of death. Though DUI is considered a misdemeanor in most of the cases, there are some cases wherein it is considered a felony and hence, may result in a severe punishment. Classification of DUI as a felony or misdemeanor depends on a range of factors. More importantly, when a person is convicted for DUI as a misdemeanor, he has to spend his term of imprisonment in the county jail. However, if he is convicted for DUI as a felony, he has to spend his entire term of imprisonment in the state prison.
DUI is considered a felony when it results in the death or causes severe injuries to any individual. At times, especially in the cases wherein someone dies in the accident, DUI can be also treated on the lines of reckless homicide, thus calling for a severe punishment including death. A drunk driver mowing down a pedestrian can amount to a serious crime which can give the law enforcing authority the right to charge him for felony.
Second DUI Conviction
As the law differs from one area of jurisdiction to another, one can come across significant variations when trying to conclude what makes DUI a felony. In some states, the seriousness of the issue is taken into consideration to determine the same. In some states, the number of convictions are taken into consideration. In New York and Wyoming, for instance, second conviction for DUI in a stipulated period amounts to a felony. On the other hand, in some states, like Georgia for instance, the fourth conviction amounts to the same.
The lack of interest of big companies in hiring felons has become quite obvious. So they are left with odd jobs which neither provide job security, nor a good pay. In such circumstances, it is important that you know whether DUI is considered a felony or misdemeanor in your area of jurisdiction.