Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI in Alabama

Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI in Alabama

Is a DUI a Felony in Alabama?

If you’re charged with driving under the influence, the majority of the time you are facing misdemeanor charges which are generally punishable by up to 1-year in jail and substantial fines. However, in certain extremely serious situations, you could find your charges escalated to felony status which carries much harsher penalties.

For this reason, knowing you could be charged with a felony DUI is important because you need to immediately start preparing a defense. Here is what can cause your DUI accusations to be escalated from misdemeanor to felony status.

Multiple DUI Convictions

Repeat offenders are not automatically considered felons, however, one too many DUIs on your record could escalate any future charges to the level of felony. Alabama Code section 32-5A-191(h) states that anyone who is on their fourth or subsequent conviction shall be found guilty of a Class C felony. Regardless of the nature of the first three charges, even if they were extremely minor and resulted in no injuries or even property damage, you will face felony charges for your fourth conviction or any other conviction after that.

Alabama DUI Look-back Period

There is an important exception to Alabama's law regarding automatic felony charges for fourth (and subsequent) convictions: all four of your convictions must have come within a five-year period. Once five years have elapsed from your first conviction, it cannot be counted on your record when determining whether you face a misdemeanor or automatic felony DUI.

Aggravating Factors in DUI Cases

Alabama’s DUI laws happen to be some of the most lenient in the country as well. Accidents that cause injuries or significant property damage are not considered aggravating factors, and your blood alcohol content level will not increase your charges to felony status, regardless of how high they might be. Alabama also doesn’t count DUI convictions from other states towards your “four strikes” when determining misdemeanor or felony DUI status.

Felony DUI Penalties in Alabama

If you’re convicted of a felony DUI in the state of Alabama, the penalties are severe, which means you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a Birmingham DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

Jail Time for Felony DUI

For starters, a misdemeanor DUI has a maximum jail sentence of exactly one year. However, a felony DUI carries a minimum sentence of a year plus one day. State law requires that you serve at least ten days of this sentence before you may be granted parole or have your sentence suspended at the court’s discretion.

Felony DUI Fines

Felony DUI fines start at $4,100 and have a legal maximum of $10,100, which is significantly higher than the minimum fine of $600 for a first conviction and $2,100 for a third conviction, both of which are considered misdemeanors. Finally, those who are convicted of a felony DUI will have their driver’s license revoked for a minimum period of five years, during which time they will be required to complete a certified chemical dependency program.

Consequences of a Felony DUI

If you’re found guilty of a felony, you could also face other consequences, such as finding it difficult to:

  • Obtain housing
  • Get financing for a car
  • Lease an apartment

You may also be forbidden from working in certain occupations, which means you may need to find a new career if you work in one of them. Finally, those who are convicted felons often lose the right to own firearms, vote in elections, or hold any sort of a public office, all of which can make an accidental mistake turn into a lifelong burden.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Birmingham DUI attorney for help! Call Tidwell Law Group, LLC today by dialing (205) 800-8596 to request a case evaluation and start reviewing the available options you may be able to pursue in order to defend your rights!

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