Driving under the influence (DUI) charges default as misdemeanor crimes in Virginia. As a misdemeanor, the penalties for a conviction are still quite harsh, including lengthy license suspension and high fines. Matters will be even worse for the accused if a DUI charge escalates to a felony, which is possible through a set of specific circumstances.
Felony DUI charges are possible if any of the three circumstances are present:
- Multiple DUI: The suspect has two or more DUI convictions active on their criminal record at the time of their arrest for the felony DUI. Virginia uses a 10-year lookback period for DUI convictions. Any prior DUI conviction for an offense that occurred within a decade can influence subsequent DUI arrests.
- Prior felony DUI: Once a driver is convicted of a felony DUI under Virginia law, every DUI charge filed against them from that day on will automatically be another felony DUI. There is no lookback period for felony DUI escalations of this nature. For instance, a driver could be convicted of a felony DUI in 2005 and still be charged with a felony DUI if they are arrested again for the same type of crime in 2020, 2030, and so on.
- Harm to others: Even a first-time DUI charge in Virginia will constitute a felony DUI if someone else was injured or killed due to the alleged actions of the arrested drunk driver. Any degree of injury, from a broken bone to a minor laceration, can permit the charge escalation. The charges might be defeated in such a situation if the defendant can prove they were not responsible for the accident, as someone who is intoxicated behind the wheel does not automatically assume liability for traffic collisions involving them.
Honest & Compassionate Representation for Your DUI Case
I am Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, and I have collected a team of legal professionals to provide you with truthful, reliable advocacy when you are staring down the worst of criminal accusations, including a felony DUI charge. As a Fredericksburg criminal defense attorney with 13+ years of experience and time spent as a former prosecutor, I have an insightful knowledge base that can give you a strong advantage in your case. My goal is securing you the best possible outcome, whether it be a charge reduction, case dismissal, or a not guilty verdict achieved at the end of a trial.
Let’s get started on your case today. Call (540) 827-4446 or email my firm today.