When Does an OUI Become a Felony?

What DUI Charges Constitute a Felony?

In Massachusetts, the offense of operating under the influence can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The primary difference between the two is the consequences they carry. Felonies are punished more harshly than misdemeanors. For example, a felony charge usually carries mandatory jail time. Additionally, a felony could have serious ramifications on your employability, ability to obtain a firearms license, and even your ability to vote. Generally, an OUI/DUI charge is not elevated to a felony offense until the charge is a third offense. However, when a serious accident, personal injury or a death is involved, even a first time OUI charge can be elevated to a felony offense.

Facing a felony charge and the potential consequences can be particularly stressful. If you have been charged with a felony OUI, it is critical that you do not face it alone. Our Massachusetts OUI lawyers are experienced in handling these cases and can help you protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome.

Prior Offenses

Generally, a OUI/DUI charge may involve a felony offense if the individual has had more than two prior DUI convictions in the past. Because Massachusetts has a lifetime look-back, a judge may look at any part of an individual’s criminal record to consider prior DUI convictions, no matter how many years ago the conviction was. Each consecutive DUI conviction results in harsher penalties, including increased jail time, heavier fines, and longer license suspension. Three or more consecutive DUI charges may become a felony, even if no accidents or injuries were involved.

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DUI Accidents Involving Serious and Fatal Injuries

In addition to consecutive DUI convictions, DUI accidents where an individual sustained serious injuries or where a fatality occurred are often charged as a felony offense. If you were arrested for DUI in relation to an accident where another individual was killed or suffered serious bodily injury, you should prepare to defend yourself against a felony DUI charge. This is also the case where an individual fled the scene of an accident.

A felony DUI charge may result in the following:

  • License suspension for more than 8 years
  • Fines ranging from $15,000 to $50,000
  • Up to 2 ½ years in jail and 5 years in prison
  • Revocation of vehicle registration
  • Forfeiture of your motor vehicle

Dealing with an OUI is emotional and frightening, but an experienced defense lawyer may be able to help. Our firm has dedicated its practice to defending clients against OUI charges for numerous years, and we can use our understanding of the Massachusetts law to ensure that your rights are protected. We examine every area of your case to determine your options and help you decide on the best defense strategy for your situation.

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Attorneys with Expertise to Fight A Felony Charge

When your personal freedoms are at risk, it is imperative that you choose a legal representative who will be your aggressive advocate in court. If you were previously convicted of operating under the influence, or if you are charged with an OUI involving a death or serious injury, it is absolutely imperative that you enlist the support of an experienced Massachusetts OUI lawyer. Our team has dedicated a large part of our practice to defending individuals charged with drunk driving offenses, which means we have detailed knowledge of how the legal process works. We work with you on a personal level to create a comprehensive defense for your case, and support and guide you throughout the entire proceedings. Do not leave your freedoms to chance; hire a lawyer who will fight for you!