By: Criminal Defense Attorney Larry Kohn, Georgia Super Lawyer in DUI Defense
People arrested for DUI or DWI frantically search for information on misdemeanor DUI vs. felony DUI. The most common felony DUI charges come from a 4th DUI in GA within 10 years, based on dates of arrest. Unlike Arizona’s extreme DUI, no mandatory increased jail time for an elevated blood alcohol level exists in Georgia.
Second most common is after a car accident causing serious bodily injury or death to another, usually leads to a District Attorney having the DUI crime elevated to a felony. Unlike the state of Tennessee, which now requires an ignition interlock device on all DUI convictions, Georgia ties the IID to getting early reinstatement after a 2nd DUI in GA, or subsequent offense. No interlock is available for a felony DUI in GA.
Because the state of Georgia does not allow record restriction (expungement) of ANY DUI offense, you will have a permanent criminal record, even for a first-lifetime drunk driving charge. In Georgia, six ways exist for a DUI to become a felony. The charging decision of DUI misdemeanor or felony hinges on the FACTS of each case.
Like most other states, if you injure or kill another, expect to face DUI felony charges. Each fact pattern must be reviewed to determine “Is drunk driving a felony?”
When Is a DUI a Felony in Georgia?
These are the six ways to be facing DUI felony charges in Georgia:
- Repeat offenses amounting to a 4th DUI conviction within ten years. This repeat carries fines as high as $10,000 and five years of state prison time.
- DUI accident causing death to another, creating a first-degree vehicular homicide felony DUI.
- DUI accident causing serious bodily injury to another person, which means scars, burns, broken bones, etc. This accident is a first-degree SIBV (serious injury by vehicle) DUI felony.
- A person being DUI while operating a school bus. This type of drunk driving charge does not require any students to be on the bus, either. Prior convictions also are not necessary.
- By driving after having been declared a habitual violator from prior DUI cases and some other serious driving offenses, and (despite being permitted to drive on a provisional license) Being arrested again within five years of the date of that DUI conviction. Arrests outside the five-year mark are a misdemeanor offense.
- Endangering a child. Georgia DUI laws have been written in a way to create a felony DUI offense more quickly than in most other states. For example, with a child endangerment DUI in Georgia, a unique provision of Georgia DUI laws permits an unlimited of DUI charges (for all the children in the vehicle under age 14) to come from that SINGLE driving event. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 is worded as follows:
A person who violates this Code section while transporting in a motor vehicle (a child under the age of 14 years) is guilty of the separate offense of endangering a child by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The offense of endangering a child by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall not be merged with the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for the purposes of prosecution and sentencing. An offender who is convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of subsection (d) of Code Section 16-12-1, relating to the offense of contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child.
Georgia Law Firm Near Me With an Experienced DUI Attorney to Defend You
Our award-winning, three-partner Atlanta DUI attorney law firm has four metro Atlanta GA office locations. Atlanta DUI Lawyer William C. Head, Cory E. Yager, and Lawrence A. (Larry) Kohn have 77 years of collective experience. Call our 24-hour number: 404-567-5515, for immediate help. Free consultation can give you answers and let you sleep again!
No matter if you face a DUI felony or misdemeanor, our law office offers:
- Unsurpassed legal industry credentials (see legal books above);
- FREE lawyer consultation IN PERSON or via Facetime or alternative digital media source;
- FREE PDF copy of Mr. Head’s 430-page drunk driving book, written for clients;
- Attorneys fee payment plans, using periodic credit card payments.
Bonus Link: Explanation of the many acronyms for DUI-DWI-OUI in America