When is a DUI A Felony?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

In Georgia, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by no more than a year in jail. There are certain times, however, when a DUI can be a felony and carry the potential for much harsher penalties. It is important to know when your behavior may result in charges of felony DUI rather than a misdemeanor. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Cherokee County, do not hesitate to contact us for immediate assistance.

Multiple DUI Convictions

If you repeatedly drive drunk and demonstrate that you do not understand the risk your actions pose to yourself and others, you may face felony DUI charges. Your first, second, and third DUI offenses will generally be misdemeanors. If you are arrested for a fourth DUI within a 10-year-period of those prior offenses, you will be charged with felony DUI.

A fourth DUI within a 10-year period is punishable by the indefinite suspension of your license, one to five years in prison, and $1,000 to $5,000 in criminal fines. Judges have the authority to suspend the lengthy term of imprisonment. However, even if a judge decides to reduce or suspend your sentence, you will still be required to serve at least 90 days behind bars for a fourth DUI conviction.

DUI Accidents

Drunk drivers who cause an accident can be charged with a felony offense if someone suffers a serious bodily injury in the crash. Whether a victim suffers a “serious bodily injury” tends to be a question of fact that will depend on the circumstances of each specific case. However, in order to be classified as “serious,” an injury must

  • deprive the victim of a member of his body,
  • render a member of his body useless,
  • cause disfigurement, or
  • cause brain damage resulting in the loss of the use of a body part.

In other words, injuries that result in amputation, paralysis (temporary or permanent), limited mobility, disfigurement, scarring, or have other debilitating effects can be considered serious under the law.

Drivers can face multiple felony counts of DUI With Serious Injury By Vehicle if more than one person is injured in a DUI-related accident. The penalty for DUI with serious injury by vehicle can range from as little as one year in prison to as many as 15 years behind bars. The length of the sentence will depend on the type of injury suffered by the victim(s).

Driving Minors While Intoxicated

Driving yourself and other adults is dangerous when you are drunk. When children are put in harm's way, the state considers your behavior to be extremely reprehensible. Driving with children in the car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not automatically aggravate a DUI to a felony unless it is your third arrest. However, it does warrant an additional criminal charge: DUI Child Endangerment.

You can be charged with DUI child endangerment for each child under the age of 14 that is in the car at the time of your arrest. There are no exceptions for children who are related to you. Charges can be aggravated if your BAC is extremely high or if you are involved in a crash.

Driving minor children while drunk, when charged as a felony, is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Fighting Felony DUI Charges in Cherokee County

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Cherokee County, it is important to fight any criminal charges that you may face. While driving under the influence is generally charged as a misdemeanor, certain circumstances can cause the charges to be aggravated to a felony. Hiring an experienced Cherokee County DUI attorney to defend you will help to limit the consequences you face. Contact us today to set up a free consultation with our experienced Georgia DUI lawyers.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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