By Law, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor, but there are laws in place that can turn a DUI into a felony offense. One of the situations where a DUI can be become a felony offense is if the offender in the case is a repeat offender. A repeat offender is dealt with more harshly than a first timer, because they are expected to have learned from their first experience, but these situations vary from state to state, and sometimes have a time constraint of 5-10 years between offenses. If a driver is charged with a DUI after the time constraint has passed, the case will not be considered a felony DUI.
Most states in the United States, with the exception of District of Columbia, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have felony DUI laws; most of the states with felony DUI laws other than Indiana, Minnesota, New York and Oklahoma do not consider a DUI a felony until the third offense. In Indiana, a subsequent DUI conviction within 5 years of the first offense is considered a class D felony, in Minnesota, a second offense based on the circumstances becomes a felony DUI charge, in New York, a second offense within 10 years is considered a class E felony, and in Oklahoma, a second offense and any subsequent offenses within 10 years are felonies.
Another way a DUI can become a felony DUI is if someone is hurt or killed when the offender was driving while intoxicated. If the accident was caused by the other driver, there is a good chance the charges will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, but if the intoxicated driver was at fault, it will be considered a felony. If a person causes damages to another person’s property or state property, while they are intoxicated, they can also be charged with a felony DUI in most states.
Causing harm and being a repeat offender aren’t the only ways a person can be charged with a felony DUI, if a person gets pulled over for driving while intoxicated and they have a child or anyone under 18 in their vehicle even if it is their child, they are automatically charged with a felony DUI, because they are endangering a minor. The charge can be reduced in some circumstances, but in general it is considered a felony.
The level of a person’s intoxication is also considered when it comes to charging them with a felony DUI even if they weren’t in an accident, or if they don’t cause physical or property damage while driving intoxicated. It is not practiced in all the states with DUI felony laws, but some states will charge a person with a felony DUI if the blood alcohol concentration is twice or three times higher than the state limit, other states cap a person’s BAC at a certain level, if it is higher than 0.15, or 0.20, the person is charged with a felony DUI.
As previously mentioned, the laws vary from state to state, so if you are interested in finding out more about felony DUI laws, you can find out about the laws in the state you reside in by going to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website.