A DUI/DWI offense is generally a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense is one that is punishable with a jail term not exceeding one year. A felony offense is a more serious offense and is punishable with a jail term exceeding one year. In most states, the prosecutor is the one who decides whether to prosecute the DUI/DWI offense as a felony depending on the circumstances of the offense.
Bodily Injury or Property Damage
A DUI/DWI offense will be a felony offense if it results in bodily injury or property damage. The issue of bodily harm or property damage will arise only if there is an accident. If the accident is caused by someone other than the drunk driver, the offense will not be a felony DUI/DWI.
High Blood Alcohol Concentration
You will be charged with DUI/DWI if you are caught driving or operating a vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more. However, if your blood alcohol concentration is much higher, then you will be charged with felony DUI/DWI. In most states, the minimum blood alcohol concentration for a felony DUI/DWI is 0.16%. It can be higher or lower depending on the state laws.
Prior DUI/DWI convictions
A first DUI/DWI offense will be considered a misdemeanor offense unless there is bodily injury or property damage or the blood alcohol concentration is very high. In most states a second and third DUI/DWI offense is also considered a misdemeanor but can be considered a felony offense if there is bodily injury or property damage or the blood alcohol concentration is very high. In some states a second DUI is a felony offense. A third DUI is a felony offense in many states.
If at the time the police stopped you for DUI/DWI and you are speeding or driving without a license or on a suspended license, you can be charged with felony DUI/DWI. In many states if you are caught driving under the influence or while intoxicated and there is a minor in the vehicle, it will be a felony offense.
Penalties for felony DUI/DWI
While a general DUI/DWI will result in fine and in some cases imprisonment up to one year, a felony DUI/DWI conviction will result in imprisonment over one year. You should fight the felony DUI/DWI charges. Your liberty is at stake. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have defenses available.