Have you are someone that you loved recently been charged with or arrested for drunk driving. Drunk driving, legally referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), is a very serious charge that carries a range of penalties upon a conviction or plea of guilt. But, certainly you are curious, is DUI a felony? Well, the fact of the matter is that is complicated as drunk driving is an offense against the state (rather than a federal offense) and the particulars will vary from state to state. However, there are some general classifications that can allow to determine if your (or your loved one's) offense will be prosecuted as a felony.

Is DUI a Felony

The first thing that one needs to remember is that individual circumstances of individual cases will play a role in the prosecution of that case. So, it is not possible to broadly classify all drunk driving offenses as felonies or misdemeanors from a distance. However, it is also important to remember that DUI does not only apply driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. There are a broad range of intoxicants, including alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs, the effects of which can render the driver legally intoxicated and subject to citation.

However, there are some broad criteria that can help identify whether an offense is going to be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. And, for purposes of clarification a misdemeanor and felony are two entirely separate legal classifications. Universally, a felony is considered a more serious offense while a misdemeanor is considered more minor. However, even in cases where DUI is prosecuted as a misdemeanor it is one of the more serious classes of misdemeanor. Additionally, the consequences for felonies will be more severe than that of a misdemeanor. In most states misdemeanor convictions that will result in incarceration require that the person do time in a county jail and generally for a term not to exceed one year. Convictions which are felonies, on the other hand, require the perpetrator to do time in a state penitentiary and, generally, for lengths of time in excess of one year.

That said, DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor offense. This is almost universally true in first offense cases, though some first offenses may be prosecuted as felonies if there was bodily injury or property damage that resulted from the action, or if a person was killed. In such cases even a first time DUI offender may face felony prosecution.

Finding the best DUI attorney

If you are someone that you love has recently been arrested for drunk driving, the most important thing that you should do is seek counsel from an attorney experienced in DUI cases. The fact of the matter is that (even in cases of guilt) proper legal representation can ensure that the situation is handled in a professional manner. Furthermore, an experienced DUI attorney will have relationships with the court and prosecutor and will be able to settle your case with terms far more favorable than if you elected to go with a public defendant.

An experienced DUI attorney can save this unpleasant situation from turning into a nightmare with fines in excess of thousands of dollars and an assortment of legal problems and difficulties. The most important thing to do is to act decisively but cautiously. It is always a good idea to visit the websites of at least three DUI specialists in your area and, after having a consultation, choose the lawyer you feel most comfortable with.

A DUI conviction will have far reaching personal, professional and legal consequences. When considering your options, it becomes most important that you do your research and choose an experienced DUI attorney to help you navigate the difficult times ahead.