DUI Laws: Four Key Questions

Posted on: 22 May 2023

Getting charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is not something that anyone wants to happen in their life. If due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, however, you are charged with a DUI, knowing some of the basics of DUI law might help you navigate the situation more effectively. The following article looks at several important aspects of DUI statutes and regulations.

Are DUI Charges Felonies?

A DUI could be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances and the specific statutes of the state where the charges are filed. Typically, an offense is going to be considered a misdemeanor unless there are aggravating circumstances or you have a number of previous DUI convictions. For example, certain states might charge you with a felony DUI if you have two convictions on your record.

Even if prior convictions are not an issue, the circumstances surrounding the incident could lead to you being charged with a felony. This usually happens because someone was harmed or you damaged property because you were intoxicated. For instance, if you injure someone in another car, this can change a DUI charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Several other circumstances could raise DUI charges to the felony level, depending on the relevant state laws. Some states might bring felony charges if you are arrested for a DUI while driving with a child in the car. Driving under the influence with a suspended or revoked license could also mean felony charges in certain states.

How Long Does a DUI Conviction Stay on Your Record?

The amount of time a DUI conviction stays on your driving record can vary. In many states it it's between 5 and 10 years. In some states, however, a DUI stays on your driving record permanently. One important negative result of having a DUI on your record is that your insurance premiums are almost certain to increase.

What Is a Restricted License?

A DUI conviction does not necessarily mean that you will not be able to drive a vehicle. Under certain circumstances, you might be able to obtain a restricted license, also called a hardship license, that allows you limited driving privileges. For example, a restricted license might allow you to drive only to your workplace, your doctor, and other essential appointments.

Not everyone with a DUI conviction will be eligible for a restricted license. For instance, some states might restrict eligibility to those receiving their first conviction.

To learn more about DUI law, consult a criminal defense attorney