When is DUI a Felony in Georgia?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Potential clients often ask me if DUI is a felony in Georgia.  For the most part, a DUI is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia.

If it is a person's first DUI, second DUI, or third DUI, and no one was injured or killed, it will be considered a misdemeanor offense.  A third DUI is a high and aggravated misdemeanor.

The following examples are when a DUI is a Felony in Georgia:

Habitual Violator:

After a Georgia driver has had three DUI's in a five-year period, they are declared a Habitual Violator, or what is commonly called "HV."  If a person is caught driving while being a habitual violator, they will be charged with a felony with punishment up to five years in prison.

Fourth Lifetime DUI:

If a person receives a fourth DUI in Georgia, they will be charged with Felony DUI.  Since the law changed in 2008, the four DUI offenses must have occurred after July 1, 2008.

Multiple Charges of DUI Child Endangerment:

Since it is considered a separate DUI for each child under the age of 14 in a vehicle, some prosecutors take the position that a DUI driver with three children in the vehicle can be charged with a felony.  However, our appellate courts have not yet ruled on this issue as to whether multiple counts of DUI Child Endangerment can result in a felony prosecution. 

Serious Injury by Vehicle:

When an accused DUI driver is at fault in an accident that results in a serious injury to another person, he or she will be charged with Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle. If convicted, the driver faces up to 15 years in prison.

Vehicular Homicide:

When an accused DUI driver is at fault in an accident that results in a fatality, he or she will be charged with Felony Vehicular Homicide. If convicted the driver faces up to 15 years in prison. 

Practice Note:

Georgia’s Boating Laws parallel our DUI laws.  As a result, when a person causes a serious injury by vessel or a homicide by vessel, they will be charged with a felony.  

Practice Note:

A high and aggravated misdemeanor carries a higher fine in Georgia and requires that a person under sentence serve 100% of their jail time.   

In summary, DUI is a misdemeanor in Georgia, unless it falls into one of the categories listed above.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

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