Which States Charge DUI Felonies?
You can receive a felony for drinking and driving in 46 states. Only California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia do not administer felony charges to repeat drinking and driving offenders.
In most states, your first DUI charge is typically classified as a misdemeanor. However, additional DUI charges could lead to a felony, depending on the amount of time that has passed since your first conviction. For example, in Arizona, your first and second offenses within seven years are a class 1 misdemeanor, but if you are charged with a third offense within seven years, it will be categorized as a class 4 felony, and the punishment will be substantially more severe.
For states without drunk driving felony convictions, the penalties become more severe for each misdemeanor. For example, California designates an individual as a “habitual offender” if they are convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI. A habitual offender will receive more severe penalties, such as increased jail time and substantial fines.
New Jersey does not classify drunk driving as a criminal offense. The crime is categorized a traffic offense with vehicle-centric penalties that fund alcohol rehabilitation centers and fines to have your driver’s license restored.
If you live in a state that does not charge felonies for drunk driving convictions, do not think that the consequences are mild in comparison to other states. The penalties of drinking and driving can still include:
If you have been arrested for drinking and driving and are unsure of what happens next, you should contact a DUI attorney as quickly as possible. Attorneys who specialize in DUI law are familiar with all the different laws and procedures in your state. A private attorney may be more expensive than defending yourself or using a public defender, but a good private attorney can mean the difference between a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you have been convicted of driving under the influence and are required to obtain SR-22 insurance or find a location that installs ignition interlock devices, visit to DUI.org and let a DUICare expert walk you through the procedure. Dealing with a DUI is stressful, and you shouldn’t go through the process alone.