Felony drunk driving, or felony DUI, is a criminal charge in states that have expanded their DUI laws. In all states, a first time DUI offense will result in a misdemeanor charges. However, there are some instances where a DUI offense can result in felony charges rather than misdemeanor charges.
The difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge is great. Misdemeanors are typically punished by a small monetary fine (less than $1,000) and up to a year maximum in jail. On the other hand, felonies will result in higher monetary fines (possibly greater than $1,000) and a sentence longer than one year in a prison facility rather than a jail facility.
In some jurisdictions, these same rules and penalties may be applicable to other types of vehicles, not just automobiles. These may include boats, all-terrain vehicles, and even farm machinery or bicycles.
What Are Some Examples of Felony DUI?
The following types of acts may be classified under felony drunk driving laws in most states:
- Drunk driving that causes death or severe injury to another person
- Vehicular manslaughter (unintentional killing of another person with the vehicle)
- Assault with a deadly weapon (the car is considered the deadly weapon)
- Repeat offenses- a third DUI offense is usually a felony
- Driving with a restricted, revoked, or suspended license
- Driving with severely elevated blood alcohol concentration (usually at 0.16%)
- Having children in the vehicle while driving drunk
Again, the specific details for these offenses may vary according to state. However, the most common type of felony DUI charges is that of a repeat DUI offense. It often happens that a person is convicted of a felony drunk driving because they have at least two prior DUI convictions.
There may be other types of felony DUI charges in your jurisdiction. Be sure to check your local laws or consult with an attorney if you are unsure of the DUI laws in your area.
What Are Some Other Consequences of Felony Drunk Driving Charges?
As with other felony charges, being convicted of a felony DUI can result in many other legal consequences besides fines and incarceration. For example, a person convicted of felony drunk driving may be subject to the following consequences:
- Permanent or temporary loss of driving privileges
- Other types of monitoring such as house arrest, ignition interlock devices, or SCRAM ankle bracelets (blood alcohol content reading devices)
- Loss of civil privileges such as the right to own a firearm
- Loss of child custody or visitation privileges, especially if a child was involved in the DUI offense
Thus, felony DUI charges can often affect a person’s life in major, far-reaching ways. Also, felony charges are much more difficult to have erased from one’s criminal record than misdemeanor charges. Felony Drunk Driving is one of many serious crimes classed as felonies.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Felony Drunk Driving or Felony DUI Charges?
Felony DUI charges are very serious and should not be approached lightly. If you are facing felony DUI charges, you may need to hire a DUI/DWI lawyer to help you with your case. A lawyer can help determine whether any defenses are available to you according to the DUI laws in your jurisdiction. Depending on the facts involved in your case, it may be possible to get a reduced sentence, or to have the charges dropped altogether.