When is a DUI a Felony?

When does a DUI become a felony?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a violation. In certain situations, it can escalate from being classified as a misdemeanor to a felony. This transition carries personal implications. Understanding the circumstances under which a DUI can lead to a felony charge is crucial for individuals dealing with driving-related matters. Here are various factors that can elevate a DUI offense to felony status:

Previous DUI Offenses

One of the factors that can upgrade a DUI charge to a felony is the presence of offenses on an individual’s record. In states, having three or more DUI convictions within a specified timeframe ( 5 to 10 years) will automatically result in felony charges. This is because multiple offenses indicate a recurring pattern of behavior and disregard for laws.

Injury Involved

When drunk driving leads to injuries, the DUI offense often escalates to being categorized as a felony. The legal system takes harm caused to others seriously, and causing harm while driving under the influence can lead to severe consequences. Sometimes, the injured party might even pursue litigation against the driver for compensation.

Fatality Involved

If someone loses their life due to driving, the DUI charge immediately becomes elevated to felony status.

This is referred to as “manslaughter.”. This can result in significant consequences, such as imprisonment and substantial fines. Moreover, the families of the deceased often opt for death lawsuits against the individual responsible.

For Repeat Offenses

Individuals with a history of repeated offenses are more likely to face felony charges. If someone has DUI convictions within a specific timeframe, any subsequent DUI offense could automatically be deemed a felony. This demonstrates the system’s efforts to deter individuals from committing violations. Furthermore, the repercussions of a felony conviction may be harsher to discourage misconduct.

Aggravating Factors

Certain aggravating factors can also escalate a DUI offense to a felony level. These factors may include driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC), operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, or causing property damage while under the influence.

Presence of Minors

Driving under the influence with minors in the car can result in a felony DUI charge. This circumstance heightens the recklessness of the act. Increases harm to vulnerable passengers. Many states have regulations addressing this issue, and penalties for DUI with minors can be severe.

High BAC Levels

In many states, an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is sufficient cause for upgrading a DUI charge to felony status.

The legal alcohol limit for driving is typically set at 0.08%. If someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC) goes above that, it can lead to more serious consequences. Different places have BAC levels that, if surpassed, can elevate a DUI to a felony. For instance, in some areas, having a BAC over 0.15 could turn a DUI into a felony offense. It’s crucial to be aware of the BAC threshold in your state or region.
Apart from causing harm to people, a DUI incident resulting in property damage may also be treated as a felony offense. This includes vehicles, structures, or other types of property.

Facing charges for a felony DUI carries penalties such, as imprisonment and hefty fines.

Being convicted of a felony DUI comes with long-lasting repercussions. Besides facing periods of incarceration and substantial fines, individuals may also lose freedoms and opportunities;
Jail Time; A conviction could lead to imprisonment for one year or more.

Monetary Penalties: Offenders might have to pay fines of thousands of dollars.
Loss of Driving Privileges; A felony DUI conviction can result in a suspension or permanent revocation of driving privileges.

If you’re dealing with DUI charges, it’s crucial to seek advice from a lawyer to help you understand the ins and outs of your case and the legal system in your area. Ultimately, avoiding a DUI becoming a felony is not about staying out of trouble with the law but about ensuring the safety and welfare of yourself and your fellow road users. Remember to act and avoid driving while under the influence to protect yourself and others on the road.

Additional DUI Resources
  • DUI First Offense – Detailed first offense information, including punishments after a first offense DUI.
  • DUI Classes – Get signed up for your DUI class now.
  • SR22 Insurance – Learn everything you need to know about SR22 filing requirements with the DMV and find out how you can save hundreds of dollars each year on your SR22 insurance.
  • DUI Laws & Lawyers – Contact one of our DUI lawyers today to discuss your pending DUI case. Review information regarding DUI Laws.
  • Bail Bond Agents – Contact a bail bond agent to get out of jail now.
  • Non-owner Insurance – If you need an SR-22 filing, but don’t own a vehicle, you need to get a non-owner policy.