(Hamilton, OH) – December 28th, 2016 – DUI or driving under the influence, otherwise known as DWI or driving while intoxicated or an OVI which means operating a vehicle while intoxicated, is a criminal offense in every state and attracts different types of penalties (some are not as stringent as they should be according to many folks).

For the most part, for over several decades all states have turned more prejudiced of drunken or drugged driving and have therefore imposed harsher penalties. Courts in general consider many OVI crimes misdemeanor offenses, but felony OVI charges are possible too, which depends on the circumstances surrounding an OVI offense, explain marvelous OVI lawyers in Hamilton, OH.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, so far there have been 4,806 felony arrests in 2016.

Misdemeanor or a felony

When you are charged with a OVI offense, you are charged for a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor crime is less harsh an offense than a felony and therefore attracts lesser penalties. On the other hand, felony charges could result in a jail term of one year or more, apart from substantial fines along with other penalties, while misdemeanor OVIs might result in jail terms for a year or less.

How a felony charge differs from a misdemeanor depends on the state laws and the circumstances that surround the case. Nevertheless, Ohio OVI attorneys explain that there are many common elements that make an OVI a felony rather than a misdemeanor, which are referred to as aggravating circumstances.

Your blood alcohol content (BAC)

One way for a misdemeanor OVI to become a felony OVI is for a driver to drink in excess so that his/her BAC is well beyond the legal limit. For a driver to be accused of a DUI, he/she must have a BAC of at least 0.08% percent. If the BAC is much higher than .16% percent or more, then it can result in a felony DUI charge.

Other ways an OVI can become a felony

Hamilton, OH OVI lawyers point out that there are several ways a DUI can be deemed a felony charge. This includes and is not limited to:

  • If the defendant is involved in an accident that results in harm or injury
  • Repeat or habitual offenders receive felony DUI charges if they had prior DUI convictions within a certain time limit.
  • If there are others in the car, especially children under 16, the driver is likely to be charged with felony DUI.
  • Any person who is OVI with a suspended license can also be charged with a felony DUI, irrespective of any other aggravating factors.
  • In addition, if a drunk driver causes a fatal accident, a first offense will be treated as a felony vehicular homicide with a three year mandatory minimum sentence. Many people believe this punishment is really pathetic. It should be much worse.

Society has been grappling with OVIs for decades. No state really has the answer for this crime. They continue to happen. Every day in America, 28 people a day are killed every day by a drunk driver according to MADD. If you work out the math, that is one death per 51 minutes. These numbers are disturbing and horrendous.

Penalties

Felony OVI penalties can be very stringent and those convicted of felony offenses face hefty fines and the possibility of an extended prison term. The courts also have some discretion while determining the penalty to be imposed. Anyone charged with a felony OVI is liable to pay fines to the tune of $10,000 or more in addition to probation and suspension of driving privileges.

Due to the many complicated factors involved in OVI cases, it is always prudent to hire an Ohio OVI lawyer to understand the finer aspects of misdemeanor and felony charges.