When DUI Is a Felony Offense
By Space Coast Daily // January 20, 2021
The letters DUI stand for Driving Under the Influence. Under the influence means driving while intoxicated with substances that can impair a person’s ability to pay attention to the road and follow safety rules. This is a common offense that many drivers will be guilty of throughout their lifetime.
It’s crucial to understand what a DUI charge means and what impact a DUI conviction can have on a person’s future. A one-time DUI is a misdemeanor. However, there are conditions that can turn the DUI into a felony charge with dire consequences.
When Is DUI Considered a Felony?
A DUI, or a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), may be considered a felony if certain conditions are met. These conditions may include:
■ Injuries to another party,
■ Significantly elevated blood alcohol levels,
■ Previous DUI convictions,
■ Violating other laws,
■ Carrying a passenger under fifteen in the car.
It is important to understand the penalties you may face due to felony DWI. Driving while under the influence of certain substances can easily result in driving so poorly that the driver injures another person, be it another driver, passenger, or pedestrian.
Jumping the curb and injuring a pedestrian can result in serious charges, including homicide. However, if the injury is caused by a minor mistake, such as hitting the rear end of another car and causing that car to run into another person, the incident is unlikely to lead to felony charges.
Highly Elevated Blood Alcohol Levels
The authorities can test the level of alcohol in someone’s blood very quickly after
pulling them over. Most states consider someone to be driving under the
influence when they have a blood alcohol content of at least .08 percent. If the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) rises to .16, in most states, the driver risks facing felony charges.
If you’re being pulled over for a single violation, you’ll typically be charged with only
a misdemeanor. You might have to attend driver safety classes. You’ll probably see an increase in your car insurance premiums, as well. This is an excellent chance to examine the choices that led to this issue in the first place.
This kind of conviction, however, will not by itself lead to more serious felony charges. If you were convicted for other DUIs in the past, you could expect this new charge to be considered a felony, especially if you have more than one conviction in the recent past.
Violating Other Laws
Sometimes people have other criminal charges pending. If you’ve served time in jail or prison for a previous conviction unrelated to driving, the DUI can be considered a violation of your parole agreement. It can also lead to additional charges, including a felony charge.
If your license has been revoked or you’re only allowed to drive under certain circumstances, a DUI can up the level of charges. You might face a felony rather than a misdemeanor conviction in these circumstances.
DUI with a Child Present
Driving under the influence with a minor passenger in the car can increase the
penalties you might face when facing a DUI. Many states have vastly increased
penalties if you drive with one or more underage passengers onboard.
These penalties can be particularly severe if the children in your car are under fifteen at the time of the incident. In most states, the driver can expect to be hit with a felony charge. The charges may be increased even further if the child sustained injuries in a crash caused by your actions.