Most people know about the crime of driving under the influence but few people know just what kind of crime it actually is. Is it a moving violation, like a traffic ticket? Or does it stick on your criminal history as well as your driving record? The answer is yes, driving under the influence, or DUI, is a criminal charge, and you could face either misdemeanor or felony charges for it. What many people don’t know is when their DUI charge could be escalated to a felony, leading to substantially more serious consequences.
Want to know when your charges might be escalated to felony level? Read on to find out what can cause your DUI charges to escalate.
Misdemeanor DUI Charges
The vast majority of DUI charges are misdemeanors, so if you’re not sure, odds are you probably fall into this category. The severity of your DUI charges are often graded on several factors, and unless one of these extreme situations has happened, odds are you’re probably not going to face anything higher than this level. In Pennsylvania, your basic, run-of-the-mill DUI charge is considered an “ungraded” misdemeanor for a first offense, but subsequent offenses will increase in seriousness with a third offense being classified as a second-degree misdemeanor.
You can also be subjected to higher-level misdemeanor DUI charges if you have two prior DUI offenses. These DUI offenses are considered first-degree misdemeanors and carry some of the heaviest non-felony penalties of any crime, including the possibility of losing your license for 18 months.
Even those who have extremely high blood alcohol content levels of over .16 or more can still be issued misdemeanor offenses, which is quite different from many other states in the country. However, these misdemeanor charges can still carry extremely heavy penalties, with repeat offenders once again facing the possibility of second and first-degree misdemeanor charges and the huge penalties they carry.
In Pennsylvania, felony DUI charges are reserved only for the most egregious of circumstances which include serious injury or death to another individual.
Felony DUI injury includes any circumstance where an auto accident caused by someone driving under the influence resulted in an injury to another person, including any occupants of another vehicle, any passengers in their car, or even any pedestrians who might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Aggravated assault while under the influence includes using a vehicle as a weapon to assault another individual and doing so while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This often results in serious injury to another individual, and usually is a higher-level felony carrying extensive penalties.
Finally, homicide while under the influence is when someone’s negligent actions of driving under the influence results in the death of another individual. This is perhaps the most severe felony crime involving driving under the influence, carrying anywhere from three to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for each count. If an accident involves in multiple deaths, the intoxicated driver could be convicted of multiple counts of this crime.
Facing Felony DUI Charges?
If you’re facing felony DUI charges, you should not hesitate to reach out to a Scranton DUI attorney for representation. When your DUI charges have resulted in injury or death to someone else, far more than just your license might be on the line; you could be facing several years in prison, and you need a skilled advocate on your side who can fight for your best possible outcome.Call the Law Office of William D. Thompson today at (570) 666-1068 to request a case evaluation if you find yourself facing DUI charges.