When does a DUI become a felony in the state of Georgia?
Most DUI offenses in Georgia are misdemeanors, but aggravating factors can escalate a DUI to a felony DUI offense. Misdemeanors, while still serious crimes, are punishable by fines and typically less than one year in jail. Felonies, on the other hand, can be punishable with substantial fines and prison time exceeding one year. In addition to the difference in the length of jail time, felonies come with more severe long term repercussions. A felony conviction will result in the loss of your right to vote and purchase a firearm. You will additionally need to declare your felony conviction when applying for most jobs. Our Atlanta DUI defense attorneys represent DUI defendants facing all levels of charges. Below, we explain further what might make a DUI a felony and how you can defend yourself.
Factors That Might Give Rise to a Felony DUI Charge
There are several factors that could escalate your ordinary, misdemeanor DUI to a felony in the state of Georgia. These include:
- Fourth DUI in 10 Years: Your fourth or subsequent DUI to occur within a ten-year period will result in a felony offense in the state of Georgia. You could face up to five years in jail and $5,000 in fees. Part of your sentence could be suspended and you will likely need to complete community service and substance abuse treatment.
- Serious Injury by Vehicle: If you caused another person bodily harm while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could be charged with Serious Injury by Vehicle in the state of Georgia. This offense is a felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Further, your license could be suspended for up to three years, without the option of limited driving privileges.
- Vehicular Homicide: Intoxicated drivers who cause the death of another person in a car accident may be charged with vehicular homicide. First-degree vehicular homicide is punishable by between three and 15 years in prison. It is a serious felony offense in the state of Georgia.
While being charged with a felony DUI is certainly a stressful and frightening experience, the good news is that you do have options to defend yourself. Your attorney will review the circumstances surrounding your case to assess your best defense, which could involve challenging your role as the cause of the serious accident or attacking evidence of your alleged intoxication.