Throughout the U.S., most drunk driving offenses are charged as misdemeanors. There are particular circumstances, however, where a driver may face felony DUI charges.
A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony and is generally punishable by time in county jail (possibly up to 12 months, depending on the state.) Most DUI, DWI and OUI offenses fall under this category. When a drunk driving offense is particularly serious, a driver may face felony charges. A felony may be punishable by time in state prison, usually for a minimum of one year, depending on the jurisdiction. Some felony DUI offenses may even be punishable by up to 10 or more years in prison.
When DWI or DWI is Charged as a Felony
Because each state will have its own laws and penalties associated with felony DUI offenses, the following is meant to be a basic overview of the types of offenses that may qualify:
Multiple DUI Offenses
When a driver has two or more prior DUI convictions on his or her record, he may face felony charges for a third or subsequent offense. Whether the offense will be charged as a felony will depend on the jurisdiction. Read more about multiple DUI offenses.
DUI Causing Injury
Being charged with causing a car accident while DUI is one of the most serious types of drunk driving offenses that a driver may face. If a driver is accused of causing a car accident that seriously injures another person, he or she is likely to face felony charges.
Also referred to as vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter is a criminal offense that involves causing the death of another person with a motor vehicle. This offense may be associated with DUI if a driver causes a fatal auto accident while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is the most serious type of felony DUI offense that a driver may be charged with. Read more about vehicular manslaughter.
Due to the serious nature of a felony charge, it is absolutely crucial to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. You can use our directory to find and compare DUI lawyers in your area who handle felony charges with competence and professionalism.
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