Misdemeanor DUI vs. Felony DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a serious crime in the state of California, but being charged with the crime is not an automatic conviction. Legitimate lawyers know that there are some, although very few, justifiable defenses for a charge of DUI. A person may face either a misdemeanor or a felony DUI indictment, and there are stark differences between the two.

The most important thing for anyone accused of drinking and driving to do is to get out of jail quickly so they can prepare their defense, because it will likely not be an easy one.

Misdemeanor DUI

A person who is charged with fewer than four DUIs in a ten-year period will usually always be charged with a misdemeanor, but the consequences of these repeat offenses get harsher after every conviction. These DUIs usually result from a person swerving on the road, failing a field sobriety test or having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. A person could face up to six months in jail for just their first offense.

After standing before a judge, a person could face a bail amount up to $25,000, dependent on their circumstances. Because of this, it is important for anyone accused of DUI to contact a bail bond agent as soon as possible. These agents are able to post bail according to the set bail schedule within hours. The bail schedule amount will usually be lower than what a judge puts forth, because the judge will have no time to consider any aggravating circumstances having to do with the case.

Felony DUI

A person who has already been convicted of three DUIs in a 10-year period faces a felony DUI if they are charged a fourth time. A person can also be charged with a felony on their first offense, if their DUI results in the injury of another person. A felony DUI conviction carries with it a minimum of 180 days in jail and serious fines and penalties. Their license can also be revoked for four years at this point. The consequences of a felony DUI far outweigh those of a misdemeanor DUI.

A person needs to be able to work freely with their lawyer in an effort to get a felony DUI either reduced or dropped altogether, and this is quite a difficult job from the confines of a jail cell. Bail can be set as high as $50,000 for a felony DUI charge, and this usually leaves people sitting in jail until their trial. Bail Hotline agents can secure a person’s release for only a ten percent fee of the set bail amount, and can help with payment plans, collateral arrangement and even zero-money-down loans – whatever it takes to secure bond.

Freedom Helps Your Defense

Sitting in jail awaiting trial is the worst possible thing a person can do when charged with any type of DUI. Unfortunately, due to the current California budget crisis, there are fewer public defenders, and it is their job to help get cases in and out of the court as quickly as possible. This means the State will often use the hostile environment of a courtroom and threats of imprisonment to get a person to quickly plead guilty. This is the worst-case scenario if you are arrested for DUI, considering the fines and penalties associated with felony and misdemeanor DUIs.

Getting out of jail quickly and securing a good lawyer are the best ways to lessen the impact a DUI can have on your life. It also allows you to get your life back into some semblance of order; attending school, showing up to work, interacting normally with family and friends.  When it comes time to argue your defense, the attorney wants to be able to show your credibility, and your lack of threat to the community at large.


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