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When does a DUI escalate to a felony?

According to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were over 27,000 DUI arrests across the state in 2021. Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Arizona. It endangers lives, and the state takes it very seriously.

Initially, most DUI charges are misdemeanors. However, a DUI charge can become a felony, also known as “Aggravated DUI,” under specific circumstances. These circumstances increase the severity of the crime and, as a result, the potential penalties.

Repeat offenses

One of the primary reasons a DUI can escalate to a felony is if you have had previous DUI convictions. If you receive a third DUI conviction within a seven-year period, the state will likely charge you with a felony. The law considers this a sign of habitual offending and treats it with increased severity.

Unlicensed driving

Driving under the influence while the courts have suspended, canceled or revoked your license is another situation that could escalate your DUI charge to a felony in Arizona. The law sees this as a blatant disregard for legal rulings and increases the charge accordingly.

A minor is present

If you are driving under the influence with a child under the age of 15 in the car, your DUI charge could become a felony. This is due to the increased potential risk to the child’s safety.

The consequences of a felony DUI

If your DUI charge becomes a felony, it can lead to more severe consequences. This can include significant fines, mandatory jail time, loss of driving privileges and a permanent felony record. These consequences can affect your future, including employment opportunities and quality of life.

Knowing the potential consequences can help inform your decisions and avoid situations that might lead to such severe outcomes. It is always best to err on the side of caution and get a ride home from friends or call a cab when after you have a fun night out drinking.