Felony DUI in Georgia
As Gwinnett County DUI Lawyers, one question we frequently hear is whether a DUI is a misdemeanor or felony charge. The majority of DUI charges are misdemeanor offenses, but there are a couple situations where a DUI can be charged as a felony. Having a DUI on your record can have life-altering consequences but adding a felony to your criminal record can escalate those effects. Felony convictions remain on your record forever and can make it difficult to obtain housing, credit, or employment. In addition, convicted felons lose the right to vote, own firearms, or hold public office. If you have been charged with felony DUI in Gwinnett County, is critical that you contact our experienced team of DUI Defense Attorneys in Gwinnett County today.
At The Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, our team has been defending clients charged with DUI in Gwinnett County for over 25 years. Our founder, Richard Lawson, formerly served as a North Georgia prosecutor and brings invaluable experience to our firm. He understands how the State thinks because he was once in their shoes. Call now and discover how we can help with your case today.
When Can You Be Charged with Felony DUI in Gwinnett County?
There are a couple different ways a person can be charged with felony DUI. No matter what you have been charged with, our Gwinnett County DUI Lawyers are here to help.
Fourth DUI Conviction
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. The penalty for a fourth DUI conviction in Gwinnett County within 10 years is between 90 days and 5 years in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. fine plus court surcharges. The judge can suspend half of the fine if you undergo an alcohol or drug treatment program approved by the court. Other mandatory requirements are 60 days community service, DUI school, 5 years probation less any time served in jail, a clinical evaluation and any recommended substance abuse treatment. All community service can be suspended if you are sentenced to serve 3 years in jail or more.
Habitual violator is not a criminal offense but is instead a status. Any person convicted of a third or subsequent DUI within 5 years or any combination of three of the predicate offenses including fleeing or attempting to elude, racing, leaving the scene of an accident, DUI, homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, or fraudulent or fictitious use or application for a driver's license, will be declared a habitual violator. You may be declared a habitual violator after convictions stemming from separate incidents or after only one incident involving three or more predicate offenses if convicted of at least three of those charges. This means that if you were arrested and charged with DUI, fleeing, and serious injury by vehicle with all charges stemming from the same incident, you would be declared a habitual violator if convicted.
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.
If you have been convicted of DUI and Child Endangerment, you will be guilty of a felony offense. Child endangerment occurs when a person is pulled over for DUI while a child under the age of 14 is in the vehicle.
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 Gwinnett County Felony DUI Lawyers 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.