Question: Is a DUI a Felony?

Drunk driving. Driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated. Whatever term is used to describe impaired driving, it’s a criminal offense. DUI/DWI offenses are classified as either misdemeanor or felony charges. Although both types are serious, a felony charge for DUI is much more grave than a misdemeanor DUI.

Across the United States, it is illegal for drivers to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher when operating a motor vehicle. This applies whether the vehicle is a car, motorcycle, or boat. Penalties for a DUI conviction range from fines and driver’s license suspension to jail time and probation.

Answer: There are distinct differences between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI indictment. A felony DUI comprises more serious circumstances than simply exceeding blood alcohol limits. Felony DUI points to habitual offenders or a driver causing bodily harm to one or more individuals. If a driver is responsible for an accident resulting in injury or death to someone else, the driver can anticipate felony charges.

In addition, many states escalate a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony if a driver had a prior DUI offense within a certain period of time. This is typically seven years, although it depends upon the jurisdiction. If the driver has a previous felony DUI conviction – regardless of time elapsed since the prior conviction -- he or she will be charged with a felony DUI again.

What’s the difference in punishment for misdemeanor DUI versus felony DUI? It’s usually the harshness of the sentence. With misdemeanor DUI, you can expect a modest stay in county jail. With felony DUI, you can expect a longer term – to be served in prison.

The consequences of a felony conviction for DUI are truly life altering. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, it’s vital to hire a lawyer who practices DUI defense.