If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), you may be facing three different types of charges: infraction, misdemeanor and felony. The consequences associated with your DWI will be significantly different depending on which type of offense you are charged with.
Infraction: And infraction is an offense, but it is the least serious of the three types of offenses associated with a DWI. When you are charged with an infraction, it does not give you a criminal record. In most cases, the only thing necessary to set things right when facing charges of an infraction is to pay a fine. While DWI can be charged as an infraction, this is not common. Whether or not your DWI could be charged as an infraction will depend on whether or not it is a first offense, the blood alcohol on record, and any other aggravating factors related to the incident. When charged with an infraction, you are not guaranteed a right to trial, but they are usually resolved quickly with a court appearance. In some states and some situations, an experienced DWI attorney may be able to have the charges associated with your DWI reduced through plea bargain from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Misdemeanor: Most DWI arrests result in misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanors, while more serious than infractions are not as serious as felonies. A misdemeanor is more likely to result in a jail term of up to one year along with a punitive fine. When charged with a misdemeanor DWI, you have the right to a trial. Misdemeanor DWI convictions can result in additional restrictions/consequences such as loss or professional licenses, negative impact on employment opportunities, denial of firearm permits, required ignition interlocks or car breathalyzers, etc.
Felony: Felonies are the most serious of charges. In 46 out of the 50 states, a repeated DWI offender will face a felony, usually after the third or fourth DWI charge. DWI offenders will also typically face felony charges when the incident results in the injury or death of someone while they were driving drunk. In some states, the charges will be elevated to a felony if a child under a certain age is in the vehicle while the driver is driving drunk. If convicted of a felony, the consequences are life-altering. Most professional licenses will be lost, voting rights are lost, the offender is no longer eligible to adopt a child, and access to public housing and benefits could be lost.
If you are facing DWI charges and you are worried about how to minimize the damage to your life and your future, please get in touch with one of the experienced DWI attorneys at Aronow Law PC so we can help you prepare your case.