Dealing with DUI

Is DUI a felony?

Under most circumstances a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor unless there are special aggravating circumstances that escalate the charge to "felony DUI."

Before getting in to the specifics of what constitutes felony DUI as opposed to misdemeanor, it is important to note that DUI laws vary from state to state within the United States. Every state has outlawed driving with a BAC above .08% (see Legal Limit for Alcohol and Driving), but each state has their own nuances and interpretation of these laws. They also impose different sentences.

In general, here are the circumstances that will raise a DUI conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony:

  • The DUI results in an accident that causes bodily injury to somebody else involved in the accident
  • The driver has a prior DUI conviction (varies state to state, but usually considers 7 years of history - second DUI's are usually prosecuted much more aggressively)
  • Causes excessive property damage (again, varies state to state)
Consequences of felony
In many cases a first-time DUI will result in a misdemeanor charge which only requires probation or a short stint in county jail. A felony, however, is much more serious and can affect your ability to get a job, your credit, your ability to vote and more. In short, if you can avoid a felony you should do so at all costs.

So how do you avoid a felony? Well, if none of the above conditions apply to you then most likely you won't even be charged with a felony, so you'll be OK. Even if you are charged with a felony the prosecutor may work with you on a plea bargain - if this is the case make sure you hire a very good DUI attorney. Do some research and make sure that this is your attorney's specialty before hiring him/her to represent you.