In most situations, a DUI arrest results in misdemeanor charges. However, if certain aggravating factors existed at the time of your arrest, you may face felony charges, which can result in far more severe consequences.
When you face criminal charges of any kind, it is crucial that you understand your rights and the law. DrivingLaws briefly explains when driving under the influence may result in felony DUI charges in Pennsylvania.
DUIs involving injury or death
If your DUI incident resulted in the serious injury or injuries of one or more other persons, the state may charge you with a second-degree felony. If convicted, you face up to 10 years in prison. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $25,000.
If your DUI incident resulted in one or more other person’s deaths, the state will likely elevate the charges from a DUI to a “homicide-by-vehicle.” Homicide-by-vehicle is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania. If convicted, you may have to pay up to $25,000 in fines and serve between three and 10 years in prison.
Fourth DUI convictions
State law does not take kindly to repeat DUI offenders. If you have three misdemeanor DUI convictions on your record over the past 10 years, the state may elevate the charges related to the fourth offense to a third-degree felony.
Third offenses with aggravating factors
There are several factors that may cause a third DUI offense to become a felony DUI rather than a standard misdemeanor DUI. Those aggravating factors are as follows:
- The presence of at least one passenger under the age of 18
- A BAC of 0.16% or higher
- The refusal of a chemical test, which violates the state’s implied consent laws
- The presence of another controlled substance in your blood
In these situations, the state will administer the appropriate charges and penalties as it sees fit.
A misdemeanor DUI is a serious offense. A felony DUI is even more so. If you face felony DUI charges, do not try to fight them alone. Work with an experienced lawyer who can help you fight for the best possible outcome.