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When is a DUI charge a felony?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | Drugged driving, Drunk Driving |

There are many factors that affect the severity of a DUI charge.

In Washington, most DUI charges are misdemeanors, but even first-time offenders face serious implications. A felony DUI can be devastating and affect many lives.

Misdemeanor vs felony DUI

State law says that drivers with more than three DUI charges within 10 years face a felony charge with the fourth DUI. If any of the previous DUI charges involve injury or death, the next DUI charge is a Class C felony, which carries a heavy penalty of as many as five years in prison and a hefty fine.

How a felony DUI can affect your life

Most people worry about the effects of a felony DUI on their driving situation. Yes, you may face a license suspension of up to three years and have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. However, there are more personal consequences as well.

A felony DUI conviction can permanently and profoundly affect your life. For example:

  • Your auto insurance premiums will increase significantly, adding to the financial burden of a DUI.
  • If part of your job requires regular driving, you will likely need to find a new career.
  • If you hold a license in your profession, such as a nurse, you could lose it in a suspension or even permanent revocation.
  • In Washington, a DUI conviction, whether felony or misdemeanor, could lead to deportation for an immigrant.

In a felony DUI case, the standard for guilt is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” There are many possible defenses against conviction.