In the United States, more than one million individuals were arrested for driving under the influence in 2014. While there’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks, getting behind the wheel of a car with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) increases your risk of injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 1/3 of first-time convicted drunk drivers commit the same crime later. This statistic isn’t surprising, considering alcohol often impairs judgment and skews perceptions. Those who repeat the same misdemeanor offense, however, are likely to face a more serious felony DUI charge.
What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
Crimes are rated on a scale of the seriousness of the offense. Typically, a DUI would be listed as a misdemeanor. However, many states have imposed a limit on the number of DUI convictions accrued before the charge becomes a felony. Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, and those who commit the latter will usually receive harsher punishments. Misdemeanor charges generally have jail sentences of up to one year while felonies are punishable by more than one year.
CT DUI: Felony or Misdemeanor?
Pursuant to McCoy v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 300 Conn. 144 (2011), DUI clients must be advised that DUIs are criminal in nature. A first offense conviction is viewed as an unclassified misdemeanor while a second offense and subsequent convictions are viewed as unclassified felonies.
In Connecticut, DUI becomes a felony when a person is convicted of a second DUI violation within ten years after a prior conviction for the same offense. So, if you receive a second conviction it is treated as a felony and you are considered a convicted felon.
The penalties for felony DUI in Connecticut include:
- A fine of between $1,000 and $4,000
- Up to two years in prison (mandatory 120 days)
- Probation, including 100 hours of community service
- A 45-day license suspension
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation for 3 years
DUI is also a felony if an intoxicated driver causes serious physical injury or death to another person (assault with a motor vehicle and manslaughter with a motor vehicle, respectively). So, even if you have no prior DUI convictions, if your first DUI causes harm to another person, you will be charged with a felony.
If you’re at risk of a felony conviction, ensure you have an experienced Connecticut DUI attorney on your side. Contact The Sills Law Firm today for a free and confidential case review.