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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > Is Drunk Driving A Felony In Georgia?

Is Drunk Driving A Felony In Georgia?


Being arrested for a DUI can be a terrifying and life-altering experience. However, not all DUIs are created equal, and regardless of how bad it seems, at the time of arrest the outcome is not written in stone. A DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. In most cases, a DUI will be a misdemeanor, but there are exceptions. For instance, if this is your fourth DUI in ten years, if you caused serious injury while driving under the influence, or if you’ve endangered a child, your DUI will be charged as a felony.

Fourth DUI in Ten Years

In Georgia, your first and second DUIs will be charged as misdemeanors (barring any aggravating circumstances). A third misdemeanor will also be a misdemeanor, but a much more serious offense, known as a high and aggravated misdemeanor. Additionally, a third DUI can result in being declared a habitual violator if you have been charged with three or more DUIs or any combination of predicate offenses in a five year period. While “habitual violator” is a label and not a charge, it results in a five-year-long license suspension. It is important to know that after two years of license suspension you can apply for a probationary license to use for the remaining three years, which will likely be quite limited in terms of use. If you violate the parameters of the probationary license, it will be revoked again for a minimum or two years.

Fourth DUIs are a felony and generally carry a fine of $1,000 – $5,000 and a prison sentence between one and five years. A minimum of 90 days of this sentence must be served in prison. However, time spent in jail prior to sentencing can be credited toward this amount. The judge then has discretion as to whether to suspend, stay, or probate the remainder of the sentence.

Serious Injury by Vehicle

This charge applies if you cause another individual bodily harm while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and carries a sentence of 1 – 15 years in prison. It’s also important to know that each person injured will result in a separate charge. In terms of what constitutes a “serious injury,” there is not a hard and fast definition, but in past cases judges have found injuries ranging from forehead scars to broken bones to meet the threshold. If a person or unborn child is killed as a consequence of drunk driving, the felony charge of vehicular homicide or vehicular feticide can be brought, which carries a 3 – 15 year prison sentence.

Child Endangerment

Under Georgia law, you can face one charge of felony child endangerment for each child under the age of 14 who is in your car while you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s notable that child endangerment is charged separately from the DUI, so being convicted can result in multiple convictions, which can potentially result in more serious charges or consequences.

Talk to a Georgia DUI Attorney

If you are facing a DUI charge, the time to call a DeKalb County DUI lawyer is right now. Call Hawkins Spizer Trial Attorneys, serving Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, and all surrounding areas. Hawkins Spizer are ready to fight for your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call today and schedule your free consultation.

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