Is a DUI a felony? Like most legal issues, the answer depends on the circumstances.
Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are usually misdemeanor offenses, but there are several ways a DUI can be elevated to a felony. If you are facing a DUI charge that is more serious than a misdemeanor, talk to an Omaha felony DUI lawyer at Berry Law today.
Some of the situations where a DUI arrest could be charged as a felony DUI include:
- A third-offense DUI in Nebraska within the previous 15 years
- When the arrested driver has a blood alcohol content of more than 0.15%
- A fourth or fifth DUI offense
Basic Court Proceedings for Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Cases
When someone is charged with a misdemeanor DUI in Omaha, the case usually begins with an arraignment where the official charges are read to the defendant and a plea of “not guilty” or “guilty” is entered. At that first court date, if the defendant pleads not guilty, the case may be set for trial. If there are complicating factors and the misdemeanor DUI lawyers need more time to prepare, the case may be set for a pre-trial conference or status hearing to ensure it is ready for trial when a trial date is finally set.
With a felony DUI charge, the case begins with an arraignment court appearance and then the defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the judge must make a determination and decide whether there is enough probable cause to move forward with the case.
If probable cause to support a felony DUI charge is found, the case is transferred to the district court in Omaha. The district court judge sets a pretrial conference to determine whether there will be a trial. The defendant has the right to a jury trial where a panel of jurors determines the defendant’s fate, or a bench trial where a judge will decide the outcome.
Felony offenses carry significant penalties and long-term repercussions. If you are facing felony DUI charges, reach out to an Omaha felony DUI attorney at Berry Law today. Our experienced DUI lawyers can begin fighting for you right away.
How a Felony DUI Lawyer Defends Criminal Charges
The initial steps for building a felony DUI defense are similar to a misdemeanor. A dedicated Omaha felony DUI attorney should first verify whether there was probable cause to stop the defendant’s vehicle. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will also analyze the evidence to see if the field sobriety tests and blood alcohol testing were conducted correctly.
If a felony DUI lawyer discovers facts that indicate their client’s constitutional rights were violated, the lawyer could file a motion to challenge the arrest, the pending charges, and the entire case. With sufficient evidence and a well-crafted motion, a skilled DUI lawyer can request the court to dismiss the case without a trial. The attorney will need to gather strong evidence which may include the arresting officer’s testimony or written report, images from body cams and other available videos, or eyewitness statements to support such a motion.
Felony DUI charges are more challenging to defend because there are more steps and additional hearings in the case. There is also more at stake for the defendant since they face prison time if convicted. Therefore, the lawyer must have a laser focus on whether the defendant should accept a plea agreement or take the case to a DUI trial.
What Felony DUI Penalties are Possible?
Third DUI Penalties
With an aggravated third-offense DUI in Omaha, an individual could be charged with a Class IIIA felony. The penalties include a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days and up to three years in jail. The defendant could also be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, and have their license revoked for 15 years. If the defendant is eligible for probation, they could still lose their license for five to 15 years, receive a $1,000 fine, and serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days in jail.
Fourth Non-Aggravated DUI Penalties
If someone is charged with a fourth offense of non-aggravated DUI, the penalties are similar to a third-offense aggravated DUI. These penalties can include jail time from a mandatory minimum of 180 days up to three years in jail, a $10,000 fine, and a 15-year revocation of their driver’s license. If a defendant is given probation, they can face a 15-year license revocation, a $2,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail.
Fourth Aggravated DUI Penalties
If the fourth offense is aggravated because the BAC is higher than 0.15, the person faces up to 20 years in jail, up to a $25,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum loss of their license for 15 years. If they receive probation instead of a conviction, the penalties include a mandatory 15-year license revocation, a mandatory $2,000 fine, and 120 days in jail.
Fifth DUI Penalties
With a fifth-offense DUI, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum of two years in jail up to a maximum of 20 years, a $25,000 fine, and a 15-year license revocation. If the person is given probation, they are looking at a 15-year license revocation, a $2,000 fine, and a minimum of 180 days in jail.
Conviction for an aggravated fifth-offense DUI carries penalties of a mandatory minimum of two years up to 50 years in jail and a 15-year license revocation. If the individual is given probation, they face a 15-year license revocation, a $2,000 fine, and 180 days in jail.
The outcome of a DUI charge in Omaha can be life-changing and should be taken very seriously. Defendants facing these penalties should consult with a felony DUI lawyer in Omaha as soon as possible.
Berry Law’s Team Provides You With Multiple Attorney Perspectives
The Omaha Felony DUI Attorneys at Berry Law are Here to Help
A local DUI lawyer at Berry Law can be extremely helpful to a defendant facing DUI charges because we know the local prosecutors and judges, as well as the court procedures. Our Omaha felony DUI lawyers understand your options related to a drunk driving charge in detail for the jurisdiction and we are most likely acquainted with the police officers involved.
Also, our accomplished DUI felony attorneys know which defense strategies will be the most successful. If you are facing felony DUI charges in Omaha, contact Berry Law today.