When an individual is arrested for driving under the influence in Georgia, that individual may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony DUI offense. What charge a driver may face will depend on the facts and circumstances of his or her case. A felony is a more serious charge than a misdemeanor and can result in significant penalties including time in prison and fines, as well as other consequences.
As a felony conviction can have a serious impact on your life it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you or a loved one is charged with a felony DUI in Atlanta, please do not hesitate to contact Atlanta DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today.
Felony DUI Charges
There are a number of different felony DUI offenses that an individual can be charged with in Georgia including, but not limited to:
- Fourth DUI Within 10 Years
- Child Endangerment
- DUI With Serious Injury By Vehicle
These offenses are discussed in more detail below.
Fourth DUI Within 10 Years
In Georgia, a first and second DUI are typically considered misdemeanor offenses. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(c). A third DUI is also a misdemeanor, however, it is a more serious offense, called a high and aggravated misdemeanor. In addition, a third misdemeanor can lead to an individual being declared a habitual offender which can result in that individual losing his or her license for an extended period of time. A fourth DUI in a ten year period in Georgia is no longer considered a misdemeanor, rather it is a felony offense.
Note: The offenses that are considered in determining if a DUI offense is the fourth offense in ten years are only those that have occurred since July 1, 2008.
The penalties for a fourth DUI conviction can include a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 as well as a prison sentence of between one year and five years. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(c)(4)(A). Under the law, the judge may "suspend, stay, or probate all but 90 days of any term of imprisonment." A defendant may receive credit for time served in jail after he or she was placed under arrest. In addition, to a prison sentence and any fine that may be imposed, a defendant may also be placed on probation, have his or her license suspended, be required to complete community service, have to complete a DUI program and go through a clinical evaluation.
When the driver is behind the wheel and under the influence with children under the age of 14 in the car, he or she can be charged with DUI Child Endangerment. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391(l). This is a separate offense from driving under the influence so if you are charged with DUI Child Endangerment you may be facing two DUI charges. Moreover, if there is more than one child in the car you can face additional DUI Child Endangerment charges, one for each child in the vehicle. Thus, even if it is your first DUI offense, you can end up being charged with a felony or be declared a habitual offender, depending on the number of children in your car. For more information, contact your Atlanta DUI Lawyer.
DUI Child Endangerment can be a misdemeanor charge or a felony. The first two charges are considered to be misdemeanor offenses, while a third offense is a felony. The penalty for a misdemeanor charge can include a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of a one year in prison. O.G.C.A. § 16-12-1(d)(1). A felony conviction can result in a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and a prison sentence of between one year and three years. O.G.C.A. § 16-12-1(d)(2).
DUI With Serious Injury By Vehicle
If there is a serious bodily injury because of an accident that resulted from an individual drinking and driving, that individual may be charged with DUI With Serious Injury By Vehicle, which is a felony offense. The law in Georgia states:
Whoever, without malice, shall cause bodily harm to another by depriving him of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless through the violation of Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391 shall be guilty of the crime of serious injury by vehicle. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-394.
The penalty for this offense is a prison term between one year and fifteen years. It is not always clear what is considered a serious bodily injury. Injuries such as broken bones, a forehead scar, and loss of vision in one eye have been considered serious in the past. Similar to DUI Child Endangerment, each person that is injured in the accident is a separate charge. Thus, if three people are injured in an accident, the intoxicated driver who caused the accident can face a separate charge for each injured person.
Administrative Penalty - License Suspension
In addition to the criminal penalties that may be imposed, a person convicted of a felony DUI can also lose his or her license for a period of time. The length of the license suspension will depend on what charges that an individual is convicted of. In addition, being convicted of certain offenses may make an individual ineligible for a temporary permit. For example, a Serious Injury By Vehicle conviction can result in a three-year license suspension and a person convicted of this offense is not eligible to get a temporary driving permit during the time his or her license is suspended. O.G.C.A. § 40-5-63(d)(1).
Contact An Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
Being convicted of a felony DUI can lead to significant consequences including jail time, fines, and a lengthy license suspension. If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony DUI in Atlanta, contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson today. His practice is exclusively devoted to defending those facing DUI charges and he is dedicated to fighting for his client's rights. Contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson at (404) 816-4440 or contact us online.