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When does DUI become a felony charge?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Firm News

A significant number of car accidents in the U.S. are due to alcohol-impaired driving. According to recent data from the National Safety Council (NSC), there were more than 13,500 people killed due to alcohol-impaired crashes in 2022. While this number is decreasing, driving under the influence (DUI) continues to be a massive concern in road safety.

Most DUI charges are classified as misdemeanors. However, certain circumstances could aggravate them to felony charges. This offense involves more severe consequences, including fines, jail time, license suspension, vehicle confiscation, ignition interlock device installation and mandatory alcohol education. Here are four common reasons why your misdemeanor DUI charge could aggravate a felony.

You are a repeat offender

Your previous offenses could impact your DUI charge. In Rhode Island, if you are a third-time DUI offender, you could face felony charges. This offense comes with harsher punishments, such as a mandatory fine of $400, prison time of up to ten years, a three-year driver’s license suspension, a mandatory DUI education program, ignition interlock device installation for two years, and possible vehicle seizure.   

There are minors in the car

If there is a minor in the vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest, it could result in an aggravated DUI. Endangering a child’s life entails heavier penalties, such as a fine of up to $1,000, prison time of up to five years, and a two-year license suspension.

Your crash caused severe injury or death

Your DUI charge could aggravate to a felony when you caused severe bodily harm to another person. In this circumstance, you could face a fine of $20,000, prison time of up to fifteen years and heavier criminal charges.

A felony DUI charge is a severe and complex situation. The gravity of such incidents could result in lifelong implications for your personal and professional life. If you are facing a felony DUI charge, consulting an experienced DUI attorney would be the best step to take. They can guide you through the process and offer defenses that could provide you with a favorable outcome.