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Why Is My DUI a Felony?

By Timothy Bussey on April 9, 2021

Being charged with any crime is a nerve-racking experience, especially since it places your job, your reputation, and your relationship with your family on the line. However, there is nothing more gut-wrenching than finding out that your crime is a felony and that you may spending the next decade in prison.

But why would being arrested for DUI lead to a class 4 felony conviction?

DUI Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Typically, a DUI is charged a misdemeanor, which means the penalties that you face following a conviction will not be as severe. For example, those charged with misdemeanors retain all their rights when released from jail. However, there are some scenarios in which you may be charged with a felony DUI instead of a misdemeanor; the most common being that you have been convicted of three past DUIs.

Driving under the influence is a serious crime. Those who drive while drunk are putting others on the road, as well as themselves, at serious risk of serious injury. To try and make sure people charged with a DUI don’t commit the crime again, the penalties get harsher with each subsequent conviction. If you have already been convicted of DUI three different times, then the Colorado criminal court assumes you have not learned your lesson despite the penalties and must be punished severely. That means, by law, the fourth DUI will be a felony.

Of course, there are other ways that your DUI charge could be a felony as well, even if you were not convicted of a DUI in the past. If you allegedly harmed or killed someone while driving under the influence, then you will be charged with either a class 4 or a class 3 felony. This is true no matter how many DU’s you have been convicted of in the past. Vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter are both incredibly serious crimes, and their penalties will match that severity.

The Penalties for a Felony

If you are facing a felony DUI charge, then you may be wondering what your penalties will be. After all, a felony is the more serious crime classification, which means that your punishment, if you are convicted, will not be a light one.

For a fourth DUI charge or a charge of vehicular assault, you face a class 4 felony conviction, with penalties including:

  • 2-6 years in prison
  • 3 years of parole
  • Fines of up to $500,000

If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, then your punishment may include:

  • 4-12 years in prison
  • 5 years of parole
  • Fines of up to $750,000

One of the hardest realities of a felony conviction, however, is the fact that even after you are freed from prison and complete your parole, you will still be facing punishments. That is because felons lose certain rights that you may have previously taken for granted. Some of those lost rights include:

  • Owning a firearm
  • Voting while in prison
  • Employment requiring a government license
  • International travel
  • Use of certain government aid programs

This means that you will never truly be done serving your time, no matter how long you sat in prison. That is why getting your charge reduced to a misdemeanor, or getting it dropped altogether, is of the utmost importance. However, you won’t be able to do that alone.

Work with a skilled Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney who can provide you with the support that you need. To speak with an experienced lawyer from our excellent firm, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., call (719) 475-2555 today. We fight with brains and brawn for our clients.

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