What is a DUI Misdemeanor?

Felicia Dye

DUI is a common acronym that stands for the crime of driving under the influence. A misdemeanor describes a category of crimes that are less serious than felonies. Whether or not a person caught for this crime is charged with a DUI misdemeanor depends on several factors, such as the number of prior offenses and the jurisdiction. In the United States (US), driving under the influence laws vary from one state to another.

A first DUI offense might be ruled a misdemeanor.
A first DUI offense might be ruled a misdemeanor.

A person usually receives a DUI charge if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the limit set by the jurisdiction that he is in. It is also possible to receive such a charge for being under the influence of substances other than alcohol. There are several factors, thereafter, that can play a role in determining whether or not the charge will be a DUI misdemeanor.

In almost every state, a third or subsequent DUI is automatically considered a felony.
In almost every state, a third or subsequent DUI is automatically considered a felony.

Within a single state the possibility of how the crime is classified may vary. In some cases, a DUI misdemeanor is determined by the number of times a person has been caught. A first offense, for example, may be a misdemeanor. A second offense may also be a misdemeanor if it does not occur within a specified period of the first conviction. However, subsequent offenses and convictions within short spans of each other may be upgraded to felonies.

A person is usually charged with a DUI misdemeanor when there are not any aggravating factors. If a person’s case involves a BAC that is significantly higher than the limit, if a child was in the vehicle, or if a person was hurt, a case that would have been a DUI misdemeanor is generally upgraded to a felony. The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is not simply how the two categories are viewed, but also how they are treated.

Since a misdemeanor is a less severe offense, the punishments associated with it are usually milder than those associated with felonies. This means a person who gets a DUI misdemeanor may not be subject to the same degree of punishment as someone who gets this charge as a felony. In most jurisdictions, a DUI misdemeanor is still viewed as a serious crime due to the potential harm that can be caused. There are several punishments that a person convicted of this crime may be subjected to. These include the suspension of his driver’s license, a jail sentence, and mandatory alcohol counseling.

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Discussion Comments


@Logicfest -- Another thing to keep in mind is that multiple DWIs can become a felony. In my state, the first three DWIs within three years (if memory serves) are misdemeanors while the fourth is a felony and that one can land you in the state pen for a month or more.

Those things are hard enough to deal with when they are misdemeanors. When they become felonies, they just become a lot more serious.


Just a couple of things. First of all, the DUI (driving under the influence) charge is called a DWI (driving while intoxicated) in some states.

Second, regardless of that it is called, a DUI is no joke. The DUI penalty is pretty severe (big cash fines, potential loss of license for a time, etc.) and is treated as such. Of all the misdemeanors out there DUI is perhaps the most serious of the lot.

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