Getting charged for a DUI can have major implications on anyone’s life. Not only are you putting your own life and health at risk, but you’re putting the lives of others on the road at risk as well, and state laws take this very seriously. Understanding what is over the legal limit, how police test your sobriety and if your case is a misdemeanor or a felony can motivate you to avoid drinking and driving at all. Here’s everything you need to know about blood alcohol concentration levels and how it affects your charge.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits
The basic measurement to determine if a person is drunk or impaired is by the percentage of blood alcohol concentration in their body, or BAC. A percentage of .08 or higher is above the legal limit, and if you are found with this much in your system when you get pulled over, you could face charges.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
In some states, the higher BAC you have, the more serious the crime and, therefore, the punishment. Other factors also play into whether you receive only a misdemeanor or a felony. They include:
- Previous convictions for impaired driving, depending on how long ago they occurred
- Restrictions on your driver’s license
- Causing injury or fatality to another person
- Causing property damage
- Other convictions unrelated to driving impaired
- Driving drunk with children in the vehicle
Any of these can result in a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and greater penalties.
Consequences of Driving Under the Influence
A misdemeanor charge of a DUI can mean jail time (usually no more than one year), fines up to $1,000 and possibilities of probation. On the other hand, a felony conviction usually means serving at least one year in jail, thousands of dollars in fines and possibly parole/probation. As with every law, each state has its own version, so check with your state laws to see how your case is impacted by them.
Even if you are impaired while driving, you still have the right to an attorney and to remain silent. If you choose, you can refuse to make a statement to police or take sobriety tests on site to speak with your lawyer first. Talking to a DUI lawyer in Fairfax, VA, like from May Law, LLP, can help you understand state laws and determine the best course of action for your situation. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations, so you can talk to one first to see if they might be able to help.