There are some DUI charges that are more serious than others. If an individual is arrested for driving under the influence under certain circumstances, the offense is charged as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. A felony is a more serious charge and carries a more serious set of penalties. In addition, a felony conviction can have an impact on future employment prospects and housing choices, as well as things like your ability to vote or own a firearm.
If you or a loved one is charged with a felony DUI, please do not hesitate to contact Alpharetta DUI Lawyer Richard Lawson today. Click here for our contact information.
Felony DUI Charges
There are a number of different DUI offenses that are considered to be felonies instead of misdemeanors. These include:
Fourth DUI Within 10 Years
In Georgia, the first two times an individual gets a DUI, it is considered a misdemeanor offense. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(c) 40-6-391(c). A third DUI is still a misdemeanor, however, this offense can be classified as a high and aggravated misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case. If a person is arrested for a fourth time for driving under the influence in a ten year period, that offense can be charged as a felony.
The ten year period only encompasses DUI convictions dating back to July 1, 2008. Thus, if you had DUI convictions, in 2006, December 2008, and 2012 and were arrested again in 2016, then the DUI from 2006 would not be counted against you.
A fourth DUI conviction can result in a number of penalties. A fine between $1,000 and $5,000 may be imposed on the defendant. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(c)(4)(A). In addition, a defendant may be sentenced to time in jail. The sentence can range from one year to five years behind bars. However, the judge in the case can " suspend, stay, or probate all but 90 days of any term of imprisonment." The defendant can also receive credit for time served in jail after he or she was arrested. Other penalties that may be imposed include license suspension, community service, completing a DUI program, a clinical evaluation, and probation.
If a driver is behind the wheel while under the influence and there are children under the age of 14 in the car, he or she can face a charge of DUI Child Endangerment. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(l). DUI Child Endangerment is considered a separate offense from a DUI. Thus, if you are found to be driving with your child in the car, you can be facing two DUI offenses. In addition, you can face a DUI Child Endangerment charge for each child in the car. For example, if you have four children in the car and are arrested for driving under the influence, you can be charged with a DUI and four counts of DUI Child Endangerment. Because these are separate charges, even if this is your first DUI offense, you can be facing felony DUI charges. The additional offense can lead to a longer prison sentence and a longer license suspension. You can contact a Roswell DUI Lawyer for more information.
Additionally, though the first and second Child Endangerment charges are considered to be misdemeanor offenses, a third offense is a felony. The penalty for a misdemeanor charge includes a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison. O.G.C.A. § 16-12-1(d)(1). If you are convicted of felony Child Endangerment then you can face a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 as well as between one and three years in prison. O.G.C.A. § 16-12-1(d)(2).
DUI With Serious Injury By Vehicle
If there is a serious bodily injury in an accident as a result of an individual drinking and driving, that individual can be charged with a felony. The law in Georgia states:
Whoever, without malice, shall cause 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 through the violation of Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391 shall be guilty of the crime of serious injury by vehicle. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-394.
What is considered to be a serious bodily injury depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. It can range from a temporary injury like a broken bone or severe bruising to a permanent injury like a scar or loss of vision in one eye.
Like with Child Endangerment, each person injured is counted separately. This means that if you cause an accident while intoxicated and injure three people, you could face three charges of Serious Injury By Vehicle. The penalty for this offense is between one and fifteen years in prison, so you could be facing up to 45 years in jail if convicted in this scenario.
Administrative Penalty - License Suspension
In addition, there may be a longer period of license suspension for a person convicted of a felony DUI. The amount of time that a person will lose his or license for will depend on what crime the individual was convicted of. In addition, certain convictions may make an individual ineligible for a temporary permit. For example, a person convicted of Serious Injury By Vehicle can lose his or her license for three years and is not eligible for a permit. O.G.C.A. § 40-5-63(d)(1)O.G.C.A. § 40-5-63(d)(1).
Contact A DUI Attorney
A felony conviction can lead to significant consequences including jail time, fines, and a lengthy license suspension. If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony DUI in Roswell or Alpharetta, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Richard Lawson has been practicing law in Georgia for over two decades and is dedicated to fighting for his clients. Contact Roswell DUI Attorney Richard Lawson at (404) 816-4440, or click here to fill out our online contact form.