How a misdemeanor DUI can become a felony
Driving under the influence is a dangerous behavior that can drastically alter the course of one’s life. Not only does it have the potential to cause great damage to property and injury to others, but it can also lead to the criminal charges for the offender.
Depending on the circumstances involving their situation, an offender can expect to receive a misdemeanor or felony charge. Each level of offense carries stiffer penalties than the one preceding it. For example, a misdemeanor charge is often given to first-time offenders and usually does not include imprisonment. A felony DUI charge carries penalties that include jail or imprisonment, mandatory fines and a longer driver’s license suspension period.
Why one should not take a DUI charge lightly
Many motorists do not understand why it is so important for them to take a misdemeanor DUI charge seriously. They think they only have to worry about fines, a small jail sentence and the possible suspension of their driving privileges. Little do they realize is that a misdemeanor DUI charge can become a felony.
Individuals who are facing misdemeanor DUI charges may want to consult a DUI defense attorney to learn how evidence from their arrest and their criminal backgrounds can be used to charge them with a felony. Common reasons include:
- Repeat DUI offense
- The injury or death of a victim
- Offense occurs while driving privileges are suspended or revoked
Because each situation is different, it is important for offenders to take time to better understand their situations. The prosecution and law enforcement have a variety of resources they can use to increase criminal charges. When a person’s misdemeanor DUI charge is upgraded to a felony, there is a good chance there is enough evidence to support it. However, that does not necessarily mean that the charge cannot be reduced or dismissed.
How to avoid DUI charges
DUI charges are never given lightly. Anyone who plans to drink should not operate a vehicle for several hours after they have finished their last drink. Even a person who has one drink could potentially become so intoxicated that they end up driving while buzzed. It is better to plan and take preventative action than it is to take a chance that could lead to them facing DUI charges and compromising their future quality of life.
Alternatives to driving after alcohol consumption include using a ride share or taxi service, having a designated driver and waiting until the effects of inebriation have worn off. Anyone who is currently facing a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge should seek legal advice from a skilled South Carolina DUI lawyer so they can make decisions about their circumstances to improve their outcomes.