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Is DUI a Felony or a Misdemeanor in the US?

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08 can result in serious charges. Generally, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor. However, if the drunk driver causes an accident that results in the loss of property or life, it can become a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the differences between a felony and a misdemeanor.

Differences between Felony and a Misdemeanor

Felonies and misdemeanors have different consequences. A misdemeanor is considered a minor crime compared to a felony. A person convicted of a misdemeanor has to pay a substantial fine and may have to serve jail time, which is usually less than one year. He/she does not have to go to federal prison to serve jail time, but instead serves time in a local jail.

The proceedings of a misdemeanor case can be expedited, and the process is like any other kind of trial. The person charged with drunk driving has the right to a DUI attorney to defend them. While accused persons can choose to represent themselves, it is not recommended, as this will likely not result in the optimal outcome of the case.

Felonies on the other hand are considered more serious crimes than misdemeanors. A person convicted of a felony in a DUI case generally has to serve time in a state or federal prison. Anyone who is accused of a felony has the right to a trial by jury.

Conviction of a felony results in higher fees and much longer prison time. Someone convicted of a felony cannot possess firearms or be employed in some professions, such as teaching, law, or the military.


Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, and results in lesser charges and fines. Keep in mind that in some states, such as California, the severity of the punishment increases if the person is convicted for a fourth time in a period of ten years. In the state of Illinois, a person will be charged with a class-2 felony if convicted of driving while intoxicated for the third time.

Getting an experienced DUI attorney will ensure that your rights are protected in a DUI case. The lawyer will look at all the facts and help ensure that the court orders a less severe punishment for the crime. The legal professional will look at all the evidence regarding the DUI case that can be presented in court to ensure the best possible outcome of the case.

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