When does a DUI become a Felony under Indiana law?
Under most scenarios and for most people an OWI or DUI charge will lead to a misdemeanor charge. However, there are instances when an OWI can become more than just a misdemeanor.
Under Indiana Code 9-30-5-3 if you have a prior conviction for an OWI case in the past five (5) years and you end up with a new OWI charge, there is a good chance that you could be looking at a class D Felony:
Except as provided in subsection (b), a person who violates section 1 or 2 of this chapter commits a Class D felony if: (1) the person has a previous conviction of operating while intoxicated that occurred within the five (5) years immediately preceding the occurrence of the violation of section 1 or 2 of this chapter
Facing a misdemeanor DUI charge can create stress enough, but as a felony, you are facing a higher sentence range (6 months to 3 years), a felony criminal record, higher fines, lengthy terms of probation, etc.
A prior conviction is not the only reason a DUI can become a felony under Indiana law. Other examples can be situations where an OWI can become a felony charge include situations where:
- you cause serious bodily injury while driving while intoxicated (a Class D or Class C Felony)
- you have a passenger who is under the age of eighteen (18) ( a Class D Felony)
- you cause death during the course of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (a Class C or Class B Felony)
The possible penalties for Class C and Class B Felonies are rather extreme and could lead to prison terms of up to 20 years in the case of a Class B Felony.