Over the last several decades there has been a concerted effort among law makers, advocacy groups, and law enforcement agencies to educate people on the dangers involved in drinking and driving and, ultimately, to reduce the number of people who get behind the wheel while intoxicated. As part of those efforts, the laws in many states have been strengthened and the penalties for a violation of those laws increased. The State of Nebraska is one of the states that has strengthened its driving under the influence, or DUI, laws by making many DUI offenses felony offenses. Whether you are a Nebraska resident, or you are just passing through, it may be important to know what offenses result in DUI felony charges in Nebraska.
The Importance of Consulting with an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney
Educating yourself about the DUI laws in your state of residence, and/or in any state in which you spend time, is always a wise idea; however, there is no substitute for consulting with an experienced DUI defense attorney – particularly if you have actually been charged with a DUI offense. The DUI laws are complex and are subject to change – and DO change on a regular basis. Furthermore, the potential penalties you face for violating one of those laws will depend on a number of factors. All too often someone gets arrested and charged under what they think is the same exact scenario as a friend/cousin/neighbor but they end up facing vastly different penalties and cannot understand why. No two arrest scenarios are the same. No two fact scenarios are the same. No two defendants are the same nor are their histories. Therefore, the only way to know with certainty what penalties you are facing if charged with a DUI in Nebraska is to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can review all of the relevant information and provide you with individualized advice. In the meantime, however, you may find it beneficial to learn – in general – what can turn a misdemeanor DUI into DUI felony charges.
Factors that Influence the Severity of a DUI Offense
A first-time DUI, absent any aggravating circumstances, is charged as a misdemeanor in the State of Nebraska. There are a number of factors that can turn a basic misdemeanor DUI offense into a more serious offense and/or into a felony, including:
- Previous convictions – a defendant’s criminal history, or lack thereof, is almost always relevant and directly related to the potential punishment the accused faces if convicted. In the case of DUI offenses, a previous history of DUI will definitely impact your current charges and corresponding penalties if convicted. In Nebraska, your third, and any subsequent, DUI is charged as a felony.
- BAC level – your breath alcohol concentration, or BAC, doesn’t raise a DUI to a felony in Nebraska; however, if your BAC level is over 0.15 percent it does increase the potential penalties you face.
- Accident causing injury – if you cause an accident while driving under the influence, and the accident results in injuries to a person or unborn child, the DUI will be charged as a felony in Nebraska.
- Accident causing death – not surprisingly, if you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence and someone is killed you could be charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide, a Class IIII felony (assuming no prior convictions) in Nebraska.
The Potential Penalties for a Felony DUI in Nebraska
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense in Nebraska you face a maximum of one year in jail along with a variety of additional penalties, such as the imposition of an ignition interlock device (IID) and/or a period of time on probation. If you are facing the more serious felony DUI charges you are also facing more serious penalties. Moreover, many of the felony DUI offenses have mandatory minimum jail times associated with them, meaning if you are convicted you will have to spent at least some time in jail as part of your sentence. If you are facing DUI felony charges in the State of Nebraska be sure to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney right away to ensure that you understand the penalties you are facing.