Getting a DUI means much more than the penalties and punishments that are given to you as sentencing. In almost all states, the first few DUI/DWI charges are misdemeanors, but if there are aggravating factors, including being involved in an accident, having children in the car, or other factors, your charge can be moved from a misdemeanor offense to a felony. This can be the case if you are convicted more than one or two times as well. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in the world of driving under the influence?
The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in the United States is that a misdemeanor is an act that is punishable by less than a year in jail, while a felony is an act that dictates a longer jail sentence. Getting a felony charge on your record can have an effect upon your life permanently. From getting a job to serving on a jury to not being eligible for certain government assistance programs to not being able to get a bank loan, a felony can mean that you can have issues for the rest of your life.
Even a misdemeanor charge is very serious, however. It means that you have made a choice to get behind the wheel when you have been drinking or driving. You have made the choice to take a chance on harming yourself or others when you are driving on the road. You may think that it is not that serious, but over 13,000 people are killed each year in accidents that involved someone who was drinking. This means that 13,000 families were affected by losing someone that was special to them. If you do not think it is serious, think about how you would feel if you had such a loss.
If you move up to the felony charge of DUI, this normally means that you have been arrested more than one or two times. If you have reached this point, this means that you are going to have significant penalties and punishments, from license suspension for longer periods of time to jail time to significant fines and fees. When you have reached this point, you need to get treatment as it is not just a little issue, it is an addiction that you need to get help with. Whether you choose to get outpatient help through one of the many treatment groups or you get the in-patient help that will get you detoxed and ready to live your life without alcohol in it, you will find that this can be a wakeup call that you need to heed before you hurt yourself or someone else.
A DUI misdemeanor is not something to just shrug off as not meaning anything. You want to be sure that you take it seriously and get the help that you need before you get another DUI and possibly hurt yourself or someone else. By using the DUI misdemeanor as a wakeup call, you will be able to ensure that you quit now and keep yourself from being charged with a felony. By understanding the effects that a misdemeanor and a felony can have on your life, as far as jail time and other punishments, you can understand more about why you should refrain from drinking and driving.