In most cases, a first-time DUI or DWI is charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, if a person was hurt as a result of drunk driving, some states might increase the charge to a felony. If there was an accident and a victim dies, the person drinking and driving could be charged with reckless homicide.
A number of states will raise a DUI charge to a felony if the driver has had previous DUIs in the past. Misdemeanors and felonies are different, but most people don’t know exactly how. Whether a charge winds up as a misdemeanor or a felony will depend on what type of conviction it is, and the length of punishment given for the crime. Misdemeanors could possibly carry the chance of incarceration in the county jail for one year or less, while a felony charge usually results in a term in state prison for more than one year.
As with any type of criminal charge, a person arrested for a DUI is still considered innocent until proven guilty. Some states require a minimum jail sentence of several days for all first-time DUI offenses. Other states will revoke a driver’s license on a person’s first DUI arrest. In addition to possible jail time and having a driver’s license suspended, a person may have to attend alcohol awareness classes and could be subject to fines and court costs.
A minor (under the age of 21) who has been arrested for DUI will not get any special considerations when it comes to punishment for the offense. In fact, being under the legal drinking age could serve to make things much worse. In some states, younger drivers have a lower blood alcohol range and the offender is likely to receive a one year license suspension.
In each state, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains a record of all licensed drivers. If a person is a licensed driver in any state, their DMV record will contain a complete driving history. Such things that may be found on a driving record include; hit and run, DUI, reckless driving, DWI, moving violations, accidents, suspensions and revocations. The length of time a violation will appear on someone’s driving record will depend on the laws of the state and the specific type of violation. Most violations remain on a person’s driving record for up to three years, but a DUI/DWI can remain for up to a decade.