Although most states consider a DUI or DWI a misdemeanor, there are certain circumstances that can increase that charge to a felony. While not every state agrees on what constitutes a felony DUI charge, most states agree that a drunk driving charge is severe enough to be considered a felony and typically does carry steeper fines and penalties.
Almost every licensed driver understands that a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher is considered an illegal level of intoxication. Operating a car with a BAC over the legal limit is illegal and can result in a misdemeanor DUI charge. However, operating a car with a BAC much higher, usually two times or more the legal limit, can result in a felony DUI charge. While this increase in the charge is not universal, many states do impose more severe penalties for extremely high blood alcohol concentration levels.
An individual may also be charged with a felony DUI if they were found to be at fault for an accident that caused harm to another individual or if they were transporting children at the time of the arrest. Occasionally, a felony DUI can be charged if the offense takes place while the driver is on a suspended or revoked license. These rules, however, are not universal and can vary substantially from state to state. In some cases, an increase in charge from a misdemeanor to a felony is left to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney.
It is important for individuals facing a felony DUI charge to have an understanding of the law and a comprehensive and effective defense. Working with an experienced DUI defense attorney can help individuals receive both the understanding they want and the defense they need for a successful outcome.