When Does a Misdemeanor DUI Become a Felony?

On behalf of The Berger Firm May 11, 2018

Along with all other states, Kentucky lawmakers have enacted laws against driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a crime. DUIs are typically misdemeanors, which fall between infractions and felonies. An infraction does not carry jail time, while a misdemeanor usually means a fine and a sentence of jail time in a regional facility. A felony is much more serious and carries penalties that are more severe, typically a stiff fine, along with a prison sentence that follows you around for the rest of your life.

A standard DUI can be increased to a felony charge in several “aggravating” circumstances, according to FindLaw. Conditions such as the following will elevate the charge.

  • Elevated BAC: If your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, you are legally intoxicated and will be charged with DUI in Kentucky. If your BAC is .15 or higher, that charge is going to be a felony.

  • Refusing a BAC test: If you think you can avert a felony by refusing to take a BAC test, think again. A refusal is an automatic elevation of a DUI.

  • Bodily harm: If you have an accident that causes serious injury or death, you are looking at a felony charge.

  • Speeding: By itself, speeding is a leading cause of accidents. If you are traveling more than 30 mph over the speed limit, your DUI becomes a felony.

  • Wrong way: Driving errors are common, but this one is deadly. Driving in the wrong direction while intoxicated is a felony.

  • Child passengers: Many states have enhanced penalties if children are in the car. In Kentucky, DUI is a felony if children under 12 are riding along.

DUI charges can mess up your life, at least for a few years. A felony DUI can mess it up for good. If you have been charged with DUI, you may want to consult an attorney.

While this article contains information about DUI charges, it is general in nature. It should not replace the advice of an attorney.