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When Does a DUI Become a Felony?

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When Does a DUI Become a Felony?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is usually classified as a misdemeanor. However, DUI, or drunk driving, can sometimes be charged as a felony. For this to occur, there usually needs to be certain factors present such as:

  • The DUI incident resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person
  • The DUI involved elements of severe recklessness or disregard for the safety of other persons
  • The charges were a second or third DUI offense (i.e., a repeat offense)

Some states separate DUI felonies into degrees such as 1st or 2nd degree felonies, etc. These types of classifications and their penalties will depend on state laws.

What Are the Legal Penalties for a Felony DUI Charge?

Legal penalties for a felony DUI charge are quite severe. These include a sentence in prison (not county jail) for at least one year, along with heavy criminal fines. Also, the person may lose certain rights, such as the right to drive an automobile.

Normal misdemeanor DUI charges are usually punishable by less than a year in a county jail, and some criminal fees.

Are There Any Defenses for DUI Felony Charges?

Standard DUI defense theories can often apply to some DUI charges. For instance, it is a defense if the person was coerced or forced into driving while drunk. An example of this is where the person is told to drive or else they will suffer physical injury. Other defenses include: mistakes in field sobriety tests, insufficient evidence, and other defenses.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Felony DUI Charges?

Felony DUI charges are very serious and generally require the assistance of an experienced lawyer. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help defending against DUI charges. Your attorney can provide you with the legal representation necessary during trial, and can also determine what types of defenses might apply to your case.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 08-20-2017 10:58 PM PDT

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