A DUI often means jail time, but it doesn’t always mean jail time. When you are charged with driving under the influence, it is often referred to as a class 1 misdemeanor. Every state has its own naming system, but in all states, the first offense with no major problems like injuries is classified as a misdemeanor.
Because of that, jail time is minimal if it even occurs. In some states, a jail term for a DUI is a very small amount. In Arizona and New Jersey, a sentence could be as little as 24 hours to 10 days. In other states, you could get a six-month sentence.
When you have been charged with a DUI, be sure you seek the expert advice of a criminal defense attorney. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about DUI’s explained.
Is a DUI Always a Misdemeanor?
In all 50 states, a DUI on its own is a misdemeanor, but other factors may escalate the nature of the charge. If people are injured or other crimes were involved, you may have a complicated DUI charge. If it is your fourth DUI, you will be in some trouble.
It will not always be jail for a DUI, but the sentencing guidelines do stipulate jail in most cases, even for this class 1 misdemeanor.
The elements that will escalate the nature of your charge and sentencing guidelines will determine whether a not a DUI is a felony or a misdemeanor. Here are some of the things that might make a DUI a felony:
- A minor child is present
- Injuries occur
- A vehicular homicide happens
- Other felonies present, such as an unregistered firearm in the vehicle
- Prior DUI convictions
- More than 3 DUI’s in 10 years (some but not all prosecutors use this guideline)
- DUI on a suspended license
What is the Best Outcome for a DUI Charge?
If you have been charged with a standard DUI, and it is your first offense, jail time will be minimal, if at all. In some cases, you may be taken to the police station for a citation, and be sent home. On its face, that’s a good outcome, and typical for a first offense class 1 misdemeanor.
It won’t be the end of the problem though. You might still get your license revoked, and you will have to pay a fine. In many cases, you will also receive the interlock ignition device.
This is a breathalyzer for the vehicle that requires the driver to blow into the device before they will be able to start the ignition. This device is an electronic monitoring system to monitor your blood alcohol content. If you are over the limit, the ignition won’t start.
What is the Worst Sentence For a DUI?
Every case is different. If somebody dies when you are charged with a DUI, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter and receive a very lengthy sentence. This is when a DUI might become a felony. Depending on the circumstance, the worst sentence for a DUI could be anywhere from six months to life.
A felony DUI is a serious problem. When you are charged with a felony, you will be prosecuted by a United States Attorney.
When you are charged with a DUI, whether it is a felony or a class 1 misdemeanor, you can’t go through this alone. You will need a criminal defense attorney to fight for the best outcome for you.