Is a DUI a Felony?

There Are Circumstances In Which Drunk Driving Is a Felony

Police officer handcuffing suspect at roadside
Zigy Kaluzny/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Question: Is a DUI a Felony?

Answer: Under most circumstances a conviction for driving under the influence is a misdemeanor, but there are circumstances upon which a DUI can be a felony.

In many states, a drunk driving charge is considered a traffic offense or a misdemeanor, but those charges can be enhanced depending upon other factors.

In most states, if someone is killed or injured by the drunken driver, felony charges can be filed.

In some jurisdictions, if you are arrested for DUI while breaking other laws at the same time, the charged can be elevated to felony level. For example, in some states if you are driving with a suspended license and are arrested for drunk driving, the offense can be considered a felony.

Repeat DUI Offenses Can Be Felonies

If your driving license privileges have been restricted because of driving under the influence and you are caught driving while intoxicated again, some states will charge you with a felony.

For example, if you have been ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle because of a previous DUI, and you are stopped for drunken driving again, it can be a felony in some states.

For example, if the driver has previous DUI convictions, in some states, additional drunk driving charges can be brought as felony charges.

State DUI Felony Laws

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the following are state-by-state DUI felony laws for repeat drunk driving offenders (who did not injury or kill someone):

Alabama - 4th or subsequent offense within five years is a felony

Alaska - 3rd of subsequent offense with ten years is a felony

Arizona - 3rd of subsequent offense is a class 4 felony

Arkansas - 4th or subsequent offense within five years is a felony

California - 4th or subsequent offense is a felony if offender is sentenced to prison

Colorado - 4th or subsequent offense is a felony

Connecticut - 3rd and subsequent offense within ten years are felonies

Delaware - 3rd offense is a class G felony

D.C. - None

Florida - 3rd or subsequent offense within ten years is a 3rd degree felony

Georgia - 4th offense within ten years is a felony

Hawaii - 4th of subsequent offense is a class C felony

Idaho - 3rd or subsequent offenses are felonies

Illinois - 3rd and subsequent offenses are class 4 felonies

Indiana - subsequent conviction within five years, it is a class D felony

Iowa - 3rd or subsequent offense is a class D felony

Kansas - 3rd or subsequent offense is a non person felony

Kentucky - 4th or subsequent offense are class D Felonies

Louisiana - 4th offense is a felony

Maine - None

Maryland - None

Massachusetts - 3rd or subsequent offenses are felonies

Michigan - 3rd of subsequent offenses within ten years are felonies

Minnesota - 2nd offense based on circumstances

Mississippi - 3rd and subsequent offenses are felonies

Missouri - 3rd of subsequent offenses are class D felonies

Montana - 4th and subsequent offenses are felonies

Nebraska - 4th and subsequent offenses within 12 years are IV felonies

Nevada - 3rd of subsequent offenses are category B felonies

New Hampshire - 4th or subsequent non-injury DUI offenses are felonies

New Jersey - None

New Mexico - 4th offense is a 4th degree felony

New York - 2nd offense within ten years is a class E felony

North Carolina - 4th of subsequent offense is a class F felony

North Dakota - 4th and subsequent offenses in seven years is a class C felony

Ohio - 4th offense within six y ears is a fourth degree felony

Oklahoma - 2nd and subsequent offenses within ten years are felonies

Oregon - 4th and subsequent offenses are class C felonies

Pennsylvania - None

Rhode Island - 3rd offense within five years is a felony

South Carolina - 4th and subsequent offenses within ten years are class F felonies

South Dakota - 3rd offense within five years is a class 6 felony

Tennessee - 4th and subsequent offenses within ten years is a class E felony

Texas - 3rd and subsequent offenses are 3rd degree felonies

Utah - 3rd and subsequent offenses within ten years are 3rd degree felonies

Vermont - 3rd and subsequent offenses are felonies

Virginia - 3rd offense within ten years is a class 6 felony

Washington - 5th or subsequent DUI related offenses within ten years

West Virginia - 3rd and subsequent offenses are felonies

Wisconsin - 4th offense within five years is a class H felony

Wyoming - 4th or subsequent offenses within five years are felonies

Drunk driving laws vary from state to state, but most all states now have passed laws that enhance DUI sentences under some circumstances. To find out if your DUI charges might be enhanced, take the Drunk Driving Enhancement Quiz.

Continue Reading