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Is an Alabama DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2023 | DUI |

Someone can go their whole life carefully following the law and then make a single mistake that could haunt them forever. Plenty of otherwise responsible and law-abiding Alabama residents get arrested for driving under the influence DUI allegations.

When a police officer has reason to believe that someone has consumed too much alcohol to safely and legally operate a motor vehicle, an arrest may soon follow. Driving behaviors, performance on field sobriety tests and results from chemical breath tests are all factors that could lead to an Alabama DUI arrest.

People sometimes don’t take DUI charges as seriously as they should given that this situation could lead to a permanent criminal record. Some people are dismissive of DUI charges because they think that they are always misdemeanor offenses. However, there are some scenarios in which a DUI arrest in Alabama will lead to felony charges.

What may increase the severity of a DUI charge?

Many first-time DUI charges in Alabama are misdemeanor offenses, although prosecutors may bring more serious charges depending on the situation. There are scenarios in which the state will charge someone with a felony offense over DUI allegations. These situations include:

  • causing serious bodily injury in a crash
  • causing someone’s death
  • fourth DUI charges

Those involved in crashes or who have a personal history of multiple DUI charges might be at risk of a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor offense. The consequences of a felony DUI are more significant. Drivers will face a longer license suspension, a longer possible period of incarceration and higher fines. They will also have a felony on their criminal record that will show up whenever they apply for a new apartment or a job.

Those who plead guilty take a dangerous gamble

Pleading guilty to a DUI means accepting a criminal record, even when someone faces a misdemeanor offense. Someone never knows which employers, educational institutions or landlords may deny them opportunities in the future because of a criminal record. They also face a variety of penalties possible depending on the judge’s opinion in their case.

Seeking legal guidance and responding properly to an Alabama DUI charge can help someone limit the consequences that a single mistake or misunderstanding might have on their life.