September 7, 2023 | DUI
Most DUIs are charged as a misdemeanor. However, Indiana law allows certain DUIs to be charged as a felony.
A felony is a criminal offense that carries a year or more of prison time. Indiana categorizes felonies by level. Level 1 felonies are generally the most serious, while Level 6 felonies are the least serious.
If you are charged with felony DUI/OWI, it should not be taken lightly. You should always consult an attorney and understand the best way to defend yourself against the charges. A felony conviction can significantly impact your life going forward, and you want to avoid that if at all possible.
Circumstances When a DUI Is Charged As a Felony in Indiana
There are three main situations when a DUI can be charged as a felony. Ultimately, it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not they are pursuing a felony or a misdemeanor.
Previous DUI Conviction
If you have a previous DUI conviction from the past seven years, your new DUI charge may be a Level 6 felony.
The state of Indiana takes DUIs very seriously. If someone is repeatedly getting caught drunk driving, they will elevate the charge to try and deter future drunk driving. If you already have a DUI conviction on your record, you must be especially careful not to drink and drive.
Driving Drunk With a Minor
In some cases, drunk driving with a minor in the car can be grounds for a felony DUI.
This applies if the driver is over 21, the passenger is under 18, and:
- The drivers’ blood alcohol content is .15 or more; or
- The driving endangered a person.
An example of when driving endangers a person may be if they get into an accident or are speeding or driving recklessly in another way.
Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death
If you get into an accident while driving under the influence and cause serious bodily injury or death, you will almost certainly be charged with a felony DUI.
Seriously bodily injury is a very severe injury.
It might include:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Extreme pain
- Loss of a bodily function or organ
- Loss of a fetus
It can also include injuries that create a substantial risk of death.
Potential Consequences of a Felony DUI Conviction in Indiana
If you are convicted of a felony DUI, there will be serious consequences. You should always try to avoid a felony conviction when possible.
There is a range of jail sentences for felony DUI convictions. The minimum is six months of confinement, whereas the max will depend on the charge. Confinement could include prison, or it may consist of work release, home detention, or some combination of these punishments.
Fines and Restitution
You should expect to pay up to $10,000 in fines after getting convicted of a felony DUI. You will also be ordered to pay restitution if your incident caused another person a financial loss. This is common in DUI cases where you damage another person’s property or cause them injury, resulting in medical bills.
You may also need to pay for other costs associated with the conviction, such as mandatory alcohol treatment programs, alcohol education classes, or inpatient treatment.
Any felony conviction will have collateral consequences.
The felony will be included on your criminal record and may prevent you from enjoying other rights, like:
- Owning a firearm
- Getting government loans
- Accessing housing or education
- Getting a job or professional license
- Voting in an election
You should understand that after your jail time and fines end, you will still face the consequences of the felony conviction.
An Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With a Felony DUI Charge
A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the potential consequences at the beginning of your case. It may inform your decisions throughout the criminal process, such as to plead guilty, go to trial, or negotiate for a misdemeanor instead.
Contact the Indianapolis DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Indianapolis
101 W Ohio St #2000
Indianapolis, In 46204