Most driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Colorado are misdemeanors. While they can result in jail time and the loss of your driver’s license, most people arrested for DUI aren’t dealing with a felony charge.
Still, there are two different situations in which a DUI arrest could result in a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. Knowing when that occurs will make it easier for you to respond to a DUI charge.
When someone gets hurt or dies
The most obvious situation that upgrades a DUI offense from a misdemeanor charge to a felony is one where another person suffers a serious injury or dies. When a drunk driver causes a crash that hurts others, they are no longer just facing a DUI charge.
Causing someone serious bodily injury while driving is vehicular assault. Causing the death of a person while driving could be vehicular manslaughter. Both of these offenses are felonies. When your behavior causes direct harm to others, Colorado prosecutors can upgrade your charge and pursue more serious penalties.
When you have a record of previous DUI offenses
If you have at least three DUI convictions on your record, your fourth DUI and any DUI arrest after that will likely result in felony charges. More severe penalties aim to reduce recidivism among those with multiple repeat offenses and help keep them off the road.
Successfully defending against an impaired driving charge requires that you understand the charge and the penalties. Reviewing the evidence against you can also help you decide the best way to send against a pending DUI charge and avoid jail time or the hardship that follows a felony conviction.