Felony DUI in Georgia
Many clients ask whether a DUI is a felony. For the most part, the answer is no. The majority of DUI arrests are misdemeanors but there are situations in Georgia where a DUI can be a felony.
The first way a DUI can be a felony conviction is if it is the fourth DUI conviction since July 1, 2008. Arrests before July 1, 2008 do not count but all other arrests count towards this number. Therefore, a first, second, or third DUI arrest will be considered a misdemeanor charge.
While felony convictions have significant prison lengths and hefty fines, they can also make it difficult to obtain housing, credit, or employment. A felony conviction is not something to be taken lightly. If you have been charged with a DUI and worry that it could be a felony conviction, call our office immediately! We have over 20 years of DUI experience in Georgia and are ready to assist with your case.
Serious Injury by Vehicle
A DUI can be a felony if it is charged with serious injury by vehicle. O.C.G.A. 40-6-394 defines serious injury by vehicle when a person causes bodily harm to another by depriving him of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage, which renders the body or any member thereof useless.
A person convicted of serious injury by vehicle shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment between one and fifteen years.
Homicide by Vehicle
A DUI can also be a felony where there was a homicide by vehicle. O.C.G.A. §40-6-393 states first degree vehicular homicide occurs when a driver causes the death of another person while driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or causes an accident that resulted in the death of the person and left the scene. The penalty for homicide by vehicle in Georgia is a prison term between three and fifteen years.
Furthermore, if reckless driving or DUI resulted in the death of an unborn child, then you will be guilty of vehicular feticide. The punishment for vehicular feticide in Georgia is a prison term between three and fifteen years.
Habitual violator is not a crime but instead is a status given to those who either have 3 or more DUI convictions or other offenses including racing, homicide by vehicle, serous injury by vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident, or fleeing the scene. You could be declared a habitual violator from three separate incidents or after just one incident that involved three or more of these offenses. You just have to have been convicted of at least three of those charges. An example would be if you were arrested and convicted of racing, DUI, and fleeing the scene. Then you would be considered a habitual violation.
A person who is declared a habitual violator and who drives while their license is revoked and causes someone's death, will be charged with First Degree Vehicular Homicide. This could result in a felony conviction with the penalty being between five and twenty years in prison.
In sum, there are only a couple situations where a DUI will be charged as a felony. For the most part, they will be misdemeanor convictions. If you are looking to fight your DUI charges, contact our office today. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are also open nights, weekends, and holidays because we understand DUI arrests do not follow regular working hours.