I found this article recently and thought it would be good to post here.
The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday (April 2008) that driving under the influence is not equivalent to violent felonies. That means that convictions for DUI do not warrant enhanced prison sentences during the penalty phase of criminal cases.
Whereas the justices agreed that drunk driving can result in bodily harm and death, they found the offense to be different from crimes with purposeful action, such as murder or rape.
The ruling stems from a case involving a New Mexico man with an arrest record for drunk driving. He was found guilty of possession of a gun, which was illegal because of his felony DUI conviction. The prosecutor attempted to invoke the Armed Career Criminal Act to increase the defendant’s prison term. The Act is typically applied to violent felonies or aggravated drug cases.
The justices voted 6-3 in their ruling DUI is not a violent felony, with Justices Alito, Souter and Thomas dissenting.