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2 times an Alabama DUI charge will be classified as a felony offense

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | DUI

A driving under the influence (DUI) offense is one of the most serious traffic violations possible in Alabama. The state will pursue criminal charges rather than simply issuing a ticket, and potential penalties include the loss of someone’s driver’s license and possibly also incarceration. But despite the seriousness of the offense when compared with other traffic infractions, an Alabama DUI will typically be classified as a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanors have lower penalties than felonies and tend to lead to fewer issues during background checks.

However, occasionally, Alabama prosecutors will file felony charges against those accused of impairment at the wheel. When are the two main scenarios in which a DUI charge ends up being a felony instead of a misdemeanor?

When someone gets hurt or dies

The reason that impaired driving is illegal is largely because of how it could affect the safety of others. When someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol causes a crash that hurts someone else or leads to someone dying, prosecutors can typically pursue felony charges. Even if this was someone’s first DUI offense and they have no other criminal record, they may end up facing a third-degree felony charge if they cause a crash while under the influence that leads to injury or death.

When someone has multiple prior DUIs

It is a common practice in Alabama for the state to impose more serious penalties the second or third time someone faces the same type of criminal charge. The penalties possible and also the severity of the charges against the individual will increase with each subsequent offense that falls in the same category. For DUI offenses, prosecutors have the option of filing a felony charge when someone has three prior convictions from within the last 10 years. A fourth DUI brought within a decade of someone’s first DUI charge could lead to felony charges and the more severe consequences that they often carry.

Especially when someone’s circumstances might result in a felony charge, those accused of a DUI offense may feel strongly about the need to defend against the charges they’re facing. Fighting back against DUI charges can potentially help someone avoid criminal penalties and a lifetime felony criminal record.