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When is DUI a Felony?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Anderson County DUI Defense LawyerUnder Tennessee state law, most DUI charges are misdemeanors. There are, however, some circumstances under which a DUI can be handled as a felony. A felony DUI can carry prison time over a year and have a serious impact on your ability to secure employment and housing in the future. If you have been arrested for DUI -- especially if you have been told that it is being treated as a felony -- you will need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney to maximize your chances of avoiding a harsh outcome. 

When Does a DUI Involve Felony Charges? 

There are several reasons a DUI might be charged as a felony. These circumstances typically involve either repeat offenses or creating a real danger, if not actual harm, to another person. Here are a few reasons a DUI might be treated as a felony in Tennessee: 

  • Fourth or Subsequent Offense - In Tennessee, a fourth DUI is automatically a felony, regardless of whether you caused harm to anyone. A minimum of 150 days must be served in jail or prison. 

  • Serious Injury - Even a first-time DUI can involve felony charges if you crashed and caused serious injury to another person. The crime of Vehicular Assault may be charged. A conviction carries two to 12 years of prison time and up to a five-year license revocation. 

  • Vehicular Homicide - If someone was killed by a DUI driver, Vehicular Homicide is charged. This is the most serious of the DUI-related charges. 

  • Child Endangerment - This charge is automatic if you were carrying a passenger under 18 at the time of your DUI arrest. If the minor was seriously injured or killed, it becomes a felony and could carry between two and 30 years in prison depending on the circumstances. 

Additionally, Aggravated Vehicular Assault or Aggravated Vehicular Homicide can be charged depending on your prior convictions. For example, if you injure or kill someone while driving drunk and already have two DUIs on your record, your current charge could be considered “aggravated.” Aggravated charges carry more prison time, higher fines, and a longer loss of driving privileges. 

Call a Knoxville DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with a felony involving DUI, you will need a strong defense to minimize what could be severe consequences. At The Law Office of William F. Evans, we will do everything we can to put forward the best defense possible. When you need a Knoxville DUI Attorney, call 423-449-7980 to schedule a free consultation. Let The Law Office of William F. Evans begin protecting your rights and planning your defense strategy today. 



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