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What Is a Felony DUI?

A felony DUI, as opposed to a misdemeanor one, usually results when there are circumstances that aggravate a person's decision to drive under the influence.
When a person's BAC is above a designated level, he may be charged with a DUI; if his BAC is substantially higher than the designated level, he may be charged with a felony DUI.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
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DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. A felony is a serious crime that generally involves harsher consequences than lesser crimes known as misdemeanors. In most places, DUI is a crime that can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. A felony DUI generally results when there are circumstances that aggravate a person's decision to drive under the influence.

Many jurisdictions have both felony and misdemeanor DUI charges, and which charge a person receives can be based on a number of aggravating circumstances. For example, in most jurisdictions, drunk driving is confirmed by a person's blood alcohol content (BAC). When a person's BAC is above a designated level, he may be charged with a DUI. If, however, his BAC is substantially higher than the designated level, he may be charged with a felony.

A person may also receive a felony charge when bodily harm is caused. If a person is caught drunk driving due to speeding, swerving, or other driving errors, he may simply be charged with a misdemeanor. If, however, his drunk driving is brought to the attention of the authorities because he has harmed or killed someone, he is likely to receive a felony charge.

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Another thing that can upgrade the charges to a felony is multiple convictions. Even if a person's alcohol level does not greatly exceed the legal limit and no one is harmed, he may be charged with felony DUI if he has previously been found guilty of the same offense. When the person's previous DUI was also a felony, it generally does not matter how long ago it occurred. If the previous DUI was a misdemeanor, it may not cause the present charge to be upgraded to a felony if it occurred more than a set number of years before.

The consequences for felony convictions are usually much harsher than those for misdemeanor. When a person is caught drunk driving, it is common for him to be arrested and to spend some time in police custody. With a misdemeanor DUI, the individual may not be subjected to further time in custody, but with a felony conviction, it is likely that the person will be sentenced to a further period of incarceration.

A felony DUI conviction also usually involves a person being required to a pay a hefty fine and court costs. The required fines are likely to be higher than those for misdemeanor charges. Furthermore, it is very unlikely that he will be allowed to retain his driving privileges.

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Discuss this Article

anon341338
Post 8

In Post #7, they advocate for longer 'alcohol programs' and bemoan the-instead higher monetary penalties. The cynic will say that it's because the state(s) are more interested in making money off the DUI racket than in solving the problem. It is a huge problem, to be sure. Many people really believe in their hearts that their right to drink is sacrosanct.

Politicians are loath to make the penalties much harsher because of this and drinking has been a part of the American culture for a few centuries. How can such be overcome? I don't know. The question is, does America have the will to significantly reduce the problem and the risks? Sadly, I don't think so.

anon312379
Post 7

Do you know that people who drink and drive usually have a broken family history or background? In my case, for example, my father abandoned me as a child and that was causing me to drink. Of course, I do not consider this an excuse, but the higher penalty should be involving longer alcohol programs to prevent this from happening, but instead there are huge monetary penalties. The abuse of alcohol is also an illness. Thank God for AA.

anon278734
Post 6

How can the courts give probation to someone who killed someone or someone who killed someone because they were texting? And then you have someone who hurt someone by accident because they were being attacked by thirty gang members throwing bricks, bats and stones, and then struck the driver in the head causing him to lose control of the car, causing injuries to one of the gang members and he got two years. I don't understand. He has never been in trouble with the law.

sneakers41
Post 4

Cupcake15-I know that if you are charged with felony aggravated DUI in Arizona the laws are among the strictest in the nation.

These penalties are for people that have their 3rd DUI in seven years, or have a DUI arrest when there was a child under 15 in the car, or when they received a DUI when they had their license suspended.

The penalties are up to $150,000 fine and an additional 80% surcharge. In addition you can receive up to four months in prison with no other DUI convictions and an additional $1,500 in prison assessment and a court ordered breathalyzer device in the car at your expense.

You will also get your driver’s license suspended for three years. In addition you will have to pay probation fees, counseling fees, and other court ordered costs. These are the penalities for felony DUI charges.

cupcake15
Post 3

Dudla-Dui laws are different in each state. A DUI defense can involve a misdemeanor or a felony. A dui arrest involves exceeding the blood alcohol level that is mandated by the state.

Depending on the blood alcohol reading and the nature of the arrest will determine if the charge will be upgraded to a felony.

Dui laws in the state of Florida do not allow this type of crime to be expunged from a record because it would be a safety hazard to the general public.

I think that all DUI arrests should be felony charges because it is so reckless that a person would drink and drive.

Why do we have to wait for them to hurt or even kill someone before it is considered a felony? If you waive a loaded gun in front of someone it is a felony and you would be charged with attempted murder then why is any different with driving under the influence?

You know that you may hurt or kill someone yet you take the chance.

habura
Post 2

A felony, according to US federal law, means that the crime is punishable by at least one year. It doesn't mean that you WILL get one year in jail, but you could. So you could get convicted of a felony DUI or a felony DWI and not serve a year in jail, or not serve any jail time.

dudla
Post 1

In California, I believe, felony DUI convictions usually come with a 10 year sentence. Of course there are a ton of reasons to mitigate the penalty, but that's usually the standard. Get a good attorney and you can get that down. A misdemeanor is way better - only about $1,500 in fines, about three years of probation, a suspension to your driver's license, and you'll have to go to alcohol or drug education school.

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