There are many factors that affect the severity of a DUI charge.
In Washington, most DUI charges are misdemeanors, but even first-time offenders face serious implications. A felony DUI can be devastating and affect many lives.
Misdemeanor vs felony DUI
State law says that drivers with more than three DUI charges within 10 years face a felony charge with the fourth DUI. If any of the previous DUI charges involve injury or death, the next DUI charge is a Class C felony, which carries a heavy penalty of as many as five years in prison and a hefty fine.
How a felony DUI can affect your life
Most people worry about the effects of a felony DUI on their driving situation. Yes, you may face a license suspension of up to three years and have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. However, there are more personal consequences as well.
A felony DUI conviction can permanently and profoundly affect your life. For example:
- Your auto insurance premiums will increase significantly, adding to the financial burden of a DUI.
- If part of your job requires regular driving, you will likely need to find a new career.
- If you hold a license in your profession, such as a nurse, you could lose it in a suspension or even permanent revocation.
- In Washington, a DUI conviction, whether felony or misdemeanor, could lead to deportation for an immigrant.
In a felony DUI case, the standard for guilt is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” There are many possible defenses against conviction.