Over a million people in the United States alone are charged with a misdemeanor or felony for their involvement in DUI or DWI each year. For many people, a DUI alone will keep them out of the house, considering that the penalties can amount to jail time ranging from six months to a year, fines as high as $1,500, a six-month suspension for your license, and maybe an ignition interlock system placed on your car. These penalties are in addition to the penalties for driving while intoxicated, which can range from a minimum of a ninety-day jail sentence to a permanent impaired license. If you have been charged with a DUI in Los Angeles, you should consult with a skilled attorney immediately.
As stated above, these types of charges often occur only after the actual arrest, which is why they are called “felony DUI”. However, most DUI cases end up as a misdemeanor, due to the fact that the statute of limitations in every state varies. In Rhode Island, for example, the statute of limitations for first-time DUI charges is three years. If it is later determined that the individual was indeed guilty of DUI, then he could be charged with a felony. There are certain regions of the country where the laws on DUI are more stringent than in others, such as Florida and Maryland, but this is not always the case. If you have been charged with a felony DUI, your first instinct may be to try to defend yourself in court, but this is not usually a good idea.
One common thing with felony charges stemming from a drunken driving is that the driver’s blood alcohol level is actually measured at the time of arrest. Because of this, the blood alcohol level can fluctuate slightly from the initial test, which can lead to a higher or lower charge. The penalties for DUI with a bodily injury attached are particularly harsh because the penalties in relation to blood alcohol are especially high.
A DUI conviction can also come with stiff penalties for second and subsequent drunk driving convictions. In some cases, the penalties for DUI with a bodily injury attached are doubled if the driver is convicted of DUI with a weapon or if the intoxicated driver kills another person while driving. In addition, in some cases, the penalties for DUI with a weapon are doubled if the vehicle is registered to an individual other than the defendant. In the state of Washington, carrying a concealed weapon without a license is a class D felony, which means it will carry the same penalties as any other felony. However, carrying a concealed weapon in the open, even with the appropriate license, is a class C felony, which is a bit less severe but still can result in a prison sentence.
As noted above, penalties for DUI offenses also include mandatory jail time. If a DUI convict has prior arrests for any other crime, the duration of their sentence is increased. For instance, if a person has been arrested several times on suspicion of DUI, or if they have numerous prior traffic citations, they face a sentence of at least one year in state prison, with a minimum of one year in jail. If a DUI convict has three or more prior drunk-driving offenses, they face mandatory sentences of 10 years in state prison. Those types of penalties increase significantly with additional drunk-driving offenses.
As you can see, there are many penalties for DUI convictions. The penalties for a felony DUI vary from state to state, as do the possible jail sentences, minimum jail sentences, and lifetime enhancements. If you were arrested for a DUI offense, consult a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer immediately. A skilled DUI attorney can help you obtain the most comprehensive DUI defense in Rhode Island.