Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer In Washington, DC
Following a DWI charge, you may wonder whether or not it will be constituted as a felony or a misdemeanor. After all, the differences between the two are significant and can determine whether or not you will be sentenced to harsher penalties such as jail time or a permanent criminal record.
In general, most first time DWI offenses are charged as a misdemeanor; however, it is possible to be charged with a felony. The circumstances of whether this will be true for you depend on the mitigating factors, as well as, the state and jurisdiction.
Factors That May Turn Your Misdemeanor DWI into a Felony DWI
Most states consider these charges to be a traffic offense or a misdemeanor, but the can be enhanced to a DWI.
Bodily Harm is a Factor – In nearly all states, if you injured or killed someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, felony charges may be filed against you. Typically, you would have to be guilty of causing the harm. For example, if you ran a red light while under the influence and you hit another car, it will likely be a felony that you are charged with. If you were under the influence and was hit by another car who ran a red light, you may not be charged with a felony.
You Broke Other Laws – It is possible to be charged with a felony if you broke other laws at the same time of the DWI. For instance, if you are caught driving on a suspended license, it may be a felony. The same applies to driving without a license or with a revoked license.
High BAC – The minimum amount of alcohol you can have in your blood to be charged with a DWI is a 0.08 in all states. Some states also have laws which say that you can be charged with a felony when you have a high BAC. Typically this varies from 0.16 or more, depending on the state. As a general rule, the higher your blood alcohol content, the worse your penalties may be.
You Were Driving with Children – If children were in the car at the time of the arrest for a DWI, a felony charge is very possible. The age defined as a child can vary, but is often 16 years or younger. Child Protection Services may also be asked to review the case. If they do so, you may be investigated and could have to deal with CPS about separate issues.
You Have Prior Convictions – If this is not your first DWI, or DUI, or you have other convictions on a criminal record, a judge may charge you with a felony.
Felony charges are very serious. Not only can they result in a permanent criminal record, but you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, attend alcohol educational courses or a rehab program, spend time on probation, pay larger fines, or go to jail. In addition to these penalties, you may:
- Find it difficult to get certain jobs
- Have your license revoked or suspended
- Be required to pay a higher insurance premium
- Be unable to live in certain neighborhoods (i.e. condominiums)
- Need to get permission to leave the state
- Have difficulties getting visas to certain countries
If you have been charged with a DWI, you should consult a drunk driving accident lawyer in Washington, DC to find out what your options may be.
Contact The Lawfirm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and what type of charge a DWI falls under.