Some people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) may wonder, is DUI a felony? This crime is usually a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Penalties for specific types of DUI vary and a misdemeanor conviction can still have a large impact on your life. However, some DUI charges are felonies. If a court convicts you of one of these offenses, you may face even more severe penalties.
A DUI may be a felony in the following circumstances:
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1383 describes aggravating factors that can result in felony DUI charges.
It is an aggravating factor if your driver’s license was suspended, revoked, canceled, refused, or restricted at the time of your arrest. This could result in a class 4 felony conviction.
If you have had three or more DUI convictions within a period of 84 months (seven years), you can face charges for a class 4 felony DUI. This is true whether those convictions were in the State of Arizona or in another jurisdiction.
After a DUI offense, the court may order you to equip your vehicle with an ignition interlock device (IID). This is an individual breathalyzer that will prevent your vehicle from starting if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08. Driving under the influence while your car has an IID is a class 4 felony.
A DUI while a minor under the age of 15 years old is in the vehicle is an aggravated charge. Unlike other types of aggravated DUIs listed above, this is a class 6 felony. Depending on the circumstances, you may face additional charges for child endangerment or child abuse.
Besides potential aggravated DUI, you may face additional charges if you cause an accident that results in injury or death while you are under the influence.
There is not a separate Arizona statute related to causing injury due to DUI. Instead, this falls under the category of aggravated assault as defined in ARS 13-1203 and ARS 13-1204. The first defines assault and one of the acts that qualifies is “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” causing an injury to someone else.
ARS 13-1204 states that it is a class 3 felony to commit assault using a “deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.” While many people think of firearms when reading this law, a car can be considered a dangerous instrument in Arizona. This means you could face felony assault charges for a DUI that resulted in injury.
Under ARS 13-1103, manslaughter is “recklessly causing the death of another person.” A DUI that results in death can be a cause for manslaughter charges, which is a class 2 felony. This is separate from any other criminal charges related to the DUI.
If you have been charged with any form of felony DUI or related crimes, our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys can help.