Law Office of Bryan E. Cameron

When does a DUI become a felony?

In general, driving under the influence (DUI) charges are misdemeanors. However, there are certain circumstances that raise a DUI to a felony. Imagine clocking out on Friday and stopping by your favorite bar to have a drink with your friends. One drink turned into many and an officer pulled you over while you were on your way home. You did not cause an accident, you did not hit anything or anyone, but is it possible that your DUI charge might be upgraded to a felony? As with most legal matters, it depends.

If you have received a DUI charge, it is important to remember that you still have the right to legal counsel and to defend yourself. An experienced criminal lawyer in the Sayville area can help you fight a DUI charge. Read further to find out more about how a misdemeanor becomes a felony.

High blood alcohol level

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over a certain level, a judge might upgrade a misdemeanor DUI to a felony DUI. A BAC of .08 or above is enough for a driving under the influence charge. In some states, if your BAC is .16 or higher, the court will may hand down a tougher punishment.


A resulting injury may also prompt a court to upgrade a DUI charge. The prosecuting attorney usually has the prerogative to decide whether a DUI case that includes bodily harm should be handled as a misdemeanor or a felony. In most cases, the defendant is the one that must have caused the injuries. For example, if you are stopped on the side of a road and another car hits you, causing injuries, then your DUI charge will most likely remain a misdemeanor.

Repeat offender

If you have multiple DUI convictions, the court might choose to upgrade your charges to felony status. In New York, one prior conviction in the previous 10-year period is enough to prompt the court to elevate the charges.

Children present

After an 11-year-old child was killed in a car accident while riding in the car with an intoxicated adult, New York passed Leandra's Law. This means that if an officer issues you a DUI and you had children under the age of 15 in the car at the time, you might face a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

If a law enforcement officer has charged you with driving under the influence and one of the above situations exists, you might be facing a felony. Talk with an experienced attorney in the Sayville area for help with your case.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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