The Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony DUIs


Authorities recently held a DUI enforcement event where police arrested hundreds of people for driving under the influence of alcohol. Colorado Springs had the most citations, with 174. Denver was a close second, with 170 citations.

Most of these people received misdemeanor DUI charges. While it does not sound overly serious, even a misdemeanor charge comes with serious consequences that can follow a person for years. It is vital for drivers to understand the differences between a misdemeanor and felony DUI so that if they ever end up with one, they will know what type of defense would be best to create.

Misdemeanor DUI

In the event the police catch you operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08, then they will arrest you on misdemeanor charges. A conviction for a first-time offense would include a jail sentence of up to 365 days, fines of up to $1,000, and up to 96 hours of community service. The DMV will also suspend your license for a predetermined amount of time. A judge may also ask you to enroll in a drug and alcohol program, which can include a victim impact panel. A second and third DUI also count as misdemeanors. However, when a person reaches his or her fourth DUI, it automatically becomes a felony.

Felony DUI

When driving under the influence results in property damage, injury, or a fatality, then it becomes a felony DUI charge. The person may also receive additional charges, depending on the severity of the incident, which can include vehicular homicide or vehicular assault. A conviction for the DUI charge could result in a minimum of 90 days in jail as well as community service. However, any additional charges tacked onto the person’s case could substantially increase jail time. Some people have served up to 12 years in jail on felony DUI convictions.