What is a Felony DUI?

No matter the surrounding circumstances, DUI charges are serious business. They have the ability to negatively impact nearly every aspect of your life for years to come. If you are facing a DUI, you might be left wondering: what is a felony DUI? What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI? Who can help if you are facing a felony DUI? These are all common questions that can be addressed by a knowledgeable Oak Ridge felony DUI attorney.

Misdemeanor Charges Versus Felony Charges

Tennessee differentiates between crimes by categorizing them as either petty offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies. Petty offenses are the least serious of these charges and usually come with a fine but no jail time. Traffic tickets are typical examples of petty offenses that generally are settled in court in less than a day.

Misdemeanors are usually punishable with higher fines and sometimes jail time of less than one year. If jail time is mandated, it is served in the local or county jail instead of a state or federal institution. Depending on the type of misdemeanor charge, a jury trial might be available. 

Felonies are the most serious type of crime someone can be charged with. A first-degree felony is the most serious, whereas the seriousness decreases with an increased degree. Felonies are usually punishable with higher fines and prison time of over one year in a state or federal institution. If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to be provided with an attorney, a jury trial, and you have the right to a speedy trial. Those convicted of a felony charge may have other rights taken away, such as:

  • Serving on juries
  • Purchasing or possessing firearms
  • Employment in certain professions, such as law, teaching, or the military

What is a Felony DUI in Tennessee?

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Tennessee, you might be wondering if you are facing a felony or misdemeanor charge and what the difference is. A DUI is a class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. However, if you are on your 4th DUI conviction, you are facing a class E felony.  The first three DUI convictions will come with a maximum jail sentence each of eleven months and 29 days in jail. However, the minimum amount of jail time increases with each misdemeanor conviction. 

Even though a misdemeanor is inherently a less-serious crime than a felony, you need to know that each misdemeanor DUI will remain on your criminal record for your entire life and will carry different harsh punishments that can impact your life in numerous ways. 

Your DUI charge can also be escalated to a felony charge if you:

  • Injured or killed a child passenger under the age of 13
  • Caused serious injury in an accident (vehicular assault)
  • Caused the death of another individual
  • Caused substantial damage to property in an accident

Additional DUI Convictions

Your first DUI conviction will come with a minimum of 48 hours in county jail and a fine between $350 and $1,500. You will also have probation of eleven months and 29 days. Your license will be revoked for one year, and you will attend a mandatory alcohol safety program and victim impact panel. 

If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will face the following:

  • A minimum of 45 days in jail to a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail
  • Probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days
  • A fine of no less than $600 and no more than $3,500
  • A license revocation of two years

A third DUI conviction will carry:

  • A minimum of 120 days in jail and a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail
  • Probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days
  • A fine of no less than $1,100 and no more than $10,000
  • License revocation of six years

What is a Felony DUI: The Penalties

Since a felony charge is more severe with major consequences, you can expect that a felony DUI will come with significant legal consequences. These include:

  • A minimum of 150 days in jail and up to six years
  • Fines between $3,000 and $15,000
  • License revocation for a minimum of 5 years or indefinitely
  • Mandatory Ignition interlock device installation
  • Possible attendance in a mandatory drug treatment program
  • Possible attendance in an alcohol safety DUI program
  • Possible community service 
  • Possible vehicle seizure

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a  Felony DUI Attorney in Oak Ridge

If you have questions about your DUI charge, including what is a felony DUI or have not yet secured the representation of an experienced felony DUI lawyer in Oak Ridge, reach out to us as soon as possible. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the fewer options might be available to you in your case. 

Call the Barnes Law Firm at 865-805-5703 to schedule your private DUI case consultation today, or you can use our online contact form. We also offer the convenient option of online video consultations if you are unable to come to our office.