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Difference between felony and misdemeanor DUI

If a North Carolina police officer takes you into custody for suspected drunk driving, you might face criminal charges. Many people mistakenly believe that intoxicated driving is a traffic offense when, in fact, it is a crime. The offense level depends on several factors, including whether it is your first DUI or you have been convicted on similar charges. 

In most cases, a DUI is filed under misdemeanor criminal charges. If you have incurred four DUIs in less than a decade, a prosecutor can charge you with a felony crime. In this state, a felony drunk driving conviction results in a one-year jail sentence (at least) that the court cannot suspend.  

You likely won’t lose your vehicle for a misdemeanor DUI

It’s unlikely that the court will take your vehicle away if you are facing a misdemeanor DUI charge in North Carolina. If they are felony charges, the state might take your car away. Your license might be suspended for a misdemeanor charge, which can occur while charges are pending before your case has gone to trial.  

If a police officer can show that you were driving while impaired without a license, your vehicle can be seized, even if you are not a repeat offender. Someone with a past DUI conviction who faces new charges while operating a motor vehicle without a valid license may have to forfeit his or her vehicle indefinitely if the court hands down a conviction.  

Both misdemeanors and felony convictions can impede quality of life

Whether criminal charges constitute a misdemeanor or felony crime, you’ll want to build a strong defense because a conviction can have severe implications in your daily life. You might incur substantial fines or have to serve a jail sentence, but your job could also be at risk. If word spreads through your community that you were charged with DUI, it can have an adverse effect on your personal and professional reputation. 

While there’s no way to predict the outcome of a North Carolina DUI case, it’s best to start crafting a defense as soon as possible after an arrest because you’re guaranteed an opportunity to refute the charges in court. With the right defense strategy, you might be able to gain a case dismissal or, at least, mitigate circumstances so that you obtain as positive an outcome as possible.  

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