Georgia Felony DUI

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If you’re stopped for drunk driving, you want to avoid a Georgia felony DUI conviction. Criminal defense attorneys from Philip Kim Law, P.C. can help. Call us!


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on December 29, 2022.


Drunk Driving and Georgia DUI Laws

If you have been arrested for DUI, you may be wondering if getting DUI a felony. The first DUI conviction is typically a misdemeanor, and typically only the fourth DUI within 10 years would be considered a felony offense. There are, however, certain circumstances under which enhanced penalties can be imposed, resulting in felony DUI charges.

Having a drunk driving misdemeanor conviction can be bothersome enough, but facing a drunk driving felony conviction can be devastating.

If you have been charged with DUI and have prior offenses on your record, it is crucial to act quickly. Consulting a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about the DUI process could be beneficial to your case.

When Does a DUI Become a Felony in Atlanta?

There are many factors that determine whether a drunk driving case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, so even a misdemeanor charge can result in a felony charge. These factors include the following:

  • Whether a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of the offense

  • Being involved in a hit-and-run accident

  • Causing death or a serious bodily injury to another person

  • Attempting to evade a law enforcement officer

In addition, certain drivers, such as school bus drivers, are held to a higher standard. They are responsible for the safety of others, so if they are impaired, they are putting them at risk. If they are charged with DUI, they will most likely face felony charges.

Ultimately, the legislature determines which offenses will be categorized as felonies. In most cases, repeat offenders, drunk or drugged drivers who cause serious injuries or deaths in an accident, or place others in serious danger, are charged with felony DUI charges rather than misdemeanor DUI charges.

What Is Child Endangerment?

An impaired driver could be charged with endangering a child if they transport a passenger younger than 14. DUI child endangerment can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. In all states, there are statutes that allow the prosecutor to charge a case as a felony if the circumstances of the case warrant felony treatment.

According to Georgia law, a defendant who has been convicted of a third or subsequent offense of child endangerment will be charged with a felony offense. In addition, the offense of child endangerment is separate and can’t be merged with the DUI offense for the purposes of prosecution and sentencing. 

A DUI child endangerment charge can, however, be added for each child under 14 in a vehicle with a drunk driver. Therefore, even if it is your first DUI offense, you could end up facing felony DUI charges or being declared a habitual offender if there is a child involved. 

DUI Involving a Serious Injury

If an impaired driver caused a serious bodily injury to another person, persons, or an unborn fetus, the driver might be charged with DUI with serious injury by vehicle, which is a felony. Although it may not always be clear what would be considered a serious injury, broken bones or loss of vision in an eye, for example, can qualify.

Similar to DUI child endangerment, there may be a separate charge for every severely injured individual in the accident. Thus, if two people were injured, the drunk driver who caused the accident could face two separate charges.

How Many DUIs Result in Felony Charges?

A first and second-offense DUI in Georgia are typically considered misdemeanor offenses according to Georgia DUI law (O.G.C.A. 40-6-391). A third DUI is usually a misdemeanor as well, but it is an aggravated misdemeanor, which is a more serious crime with harsher penalties.

Further, committing a third DUI within ten years can result in a person being labeled a habitual offender and losing their license for a lengthy period of time. In Georgia, a fourth DUI within ten years is a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor.


Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions in Georgia


Georgia felony DUI penalties are harsh and typically include at least one, but not more than five years in prison. Additional consequences include 60 days of community work, five years of probation, and DUI school. DUI court treatment program is mandatory, as well as alcohol and drug counseling.

If the circumstances of the offense warrant it, the prison time may be longer. For instance, if the defendant was involved in a crash that resulted in serious injury or death to others, the related additional charges could add an additional 15 years to that five-year prison sentence for every injury or fatality victim.

If convicted of DUI, a school bus driver can also face 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, even if they were not transporting children at the time of the DUI arrest.

DUI child endangerment, if prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Felony DUI child endangerment convictions, on the other hand, can result in fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, as well as prison sentences ranging from one to three years.

For example, the sentence for a DUI driver who caused serious bodily injury to one or more individuals ranges from 1 to 15 years per serious injury victim. In the case of an accident that causes death, the prison sentence can range from three to fifteen years for each victim.

Criminal penalties aside, those convicted of felony DUI can also face ten-year driver’s license suspensions. However, the exact length depends on the charges. Being convicted of certain offenses may make the driver ineligible for a temporary or limited permit. The convicted driver will have to surrender their license plates to the court and have notice and their picture published in the county newspaper.

How Can a DUI Attorney Help with a Felony DUI?

The majority of DUI offenses are misdemeanors, which do not carry as severe a punishment as DUI felonies. However, a criminal record can have a profound impact on a person’s employment opportunities and future.

Any Georgia DUI offense poses a risk of a driver’s license suspension for a certain period and obtaining a criminal record. Additionally, DUI expungement in Georgia is impossible, meaning it would remain on your criminal record permanently.

However, having a skilled DUI lawyer on your side can make a difference in your case. They may be able to negotiate a plea bargain or suggest joining a DUI court.

If you are facing felony charges, let Philip Kim Law, P.C. evaluate your DUI case and ensure that your rights are protected. Make an appointment with us today and receive a free consultation!

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
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