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Definition - What does Felony DUI mean?
Drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) will generally be charged with a misdemeanor DUI. Exceptions exist, however, when aggravating factors are present or the driver has multiple, previous DUI arrests within a specified period of time. In this case, the driver can be charged with felony DUI, a much more severe charge which carries harsher DUI penalties and higher DUI fines.
Aggravating factors and a Felony DUI charge
Although there are several factors which may result in an aggravated DUI charge- driving with an extremely high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), driving with a minor in the car, or driving drunk in a school zone- felony DUI charges are restricted for the most egregious violations.
For example, felony DUI charges are filed in some states against impaired drivers who are charged with intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter.
Intoxication assault includes any driving action which poses a significant risk of death, causes serious and permanent disfigurement or loss, or results in damage which impairs function of another person’s organs or body parts. Drivers charged with intoxication assault in Texas, for example, will be charged with a 3rd degree felony.
Intoxication assault includes killing another person while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the State of Texas, this charge is considered a 2nd degree felony. Other states have similar charges for similar crimes.
Penalties for Felony DUI
Fines and penalties for a felony DUI charge will vary by state but can include license suspension and revocation, imprisonment, mandatory DUI educational classes, additional car insurance requirements, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and high fines and surcharges.
Felony DUI and the wash-out period
Another consideration before pleading guilty to a felony DUI is to understand how your state determines whether your charge is a second, third, or fourth DUI charge. Each state has established a time period, referred to as the look-back or wash-out period, in which the state will consider previous DUI arrests when deciding punishment.
For example, in the State of Georgia, if you have been arrested for your third DUI within Georgia's 10 year look-back period, you can be charged with a felony. Review your state’s laws for more information about your state’s look-back laws.
Drivers convicted of felony DUI should consult with a lawyer immediately to determine how to defend against their DUI charge. Do not attempt to fight a felony DUI without legal help from a DUI lawyer.