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Is a DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2022 | Drunk Driving |

More often than not, a DUI is a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Misdemeanors have less severe consequences, such as smaller fines and shorter jail sentences.

However, there are a few situations where a DUI becomes a felony.

It’s your fourth DUI

In Georgia, a DUI becomes a felony if it is your fourth DUI within ten years. You cannot expunge a DUI charge, either, so any subsequent charge beyond the fourth will also count as a felony.

You cause serious injury

If you cause serious injury while driving under the influence, you could face a felony DUI charge. Georgia law defines serious injury as an injury that results in brain damage, disfigurement or disability. If an accident results in death, you will likely face a felony charge of first-degree vehicular homicide.

You are a high-risk operator

In certain occupations, such as bus driving, drivers are responsible for keeping many passengers safe. Driving while under the influence puts those passengers at risk, so law enforcement cracks down harder on bus drivers and charges DUIs as felonies rather than misdemeanors.

You have children in the car

Getting a DUI while you have children younger than 14 can land you a child endangerment charge. Child endangerment becomes a felony after the third offense. Each child counts as one offense, so if you have three or more children in the car, you could quickly find yourself dealing with a felony.

Resisting the urge to drive while under the influence can ensure you do not end up with a felony DUI charge.