Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in every state across the United States, and Georgia is no exception. Most first, second and third DUI offenses within a 10-year period fall under the category of misdemeanors in Georgia. However, a DUI becomes a felony when it is your fourth DUI conviction within the 10-year timeframe.
A DUI can also become a felony when you cause an accident that results in injury or the death of another person. Furthermore, driving under the influence with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle can result in an additional charge of child endangerment, which may elevate the DUI to a felony if there are multiple counts. Understanding when a DUI crosses this threshold is crucial for Georgia drivers because the consequences and penalties are much more severe.
Consequences of felony DUI in Georgia
Drunk driving can become a felony under certain circumstances, particularly when it involves repeat offenses or results in harm to others. The penalties for a felony DUI are significantly more severe than those for a misdemeanor. They can include:
- Extended jail time: A felony DUI conviction can come with a prison sentence ranging from one to five years, which could increase to 15 years if you caused significant injury or death.
- Hefty fines: Fines for a felony DUI can be substantial, sometimes exceeding $5,000.
- License revocation: A felony DUI often results in a lengthy revocation of your driver’s license, potentially for five years or more.
- Probation: Probation for a felony DUI can last for a considerable period and comes with strict conditions that you must follow.
- License plate surrender: A felony DUI convicted driver must surrender the license plates of the vehicles registered under their name.
Remember, you could face even harsher penalties depending on the damage you caused while driving under the influence. The state will also consider you a convicted felon, and it will appear on your criminal record permanently.
Why you should fight felony DUI charges
A felony DUI conviction can negatively impact your life and ruin your reputation. It could affect career opportunities and prevent you from securing loans. One DUI misdemeanor could be the first step toward a felony. Therefore, when facing DUI charges, you must consult an experienced attorney to find the best way to avoid a conviction or lessen the possible penalties.