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When is DUI a felony in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | DUI |

Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Virginia. While many DUI cases are misdemeanors, there are circumstances under which DUI can become a felony offense.

Understanding the conditions that can elevate a DUI charge to a felony helps drivers navigate the legal system and protect their rights.

Aggravating factors leading to felony DUI

DUI offenses can become felonies under certain aggravating circumstances. For example, one such circumstance is if a driver has multiple DUI convictions within a certain timeframe. A third or subsequent DUI offense within ten years is typically a felony. Additionally, DUI offenses resulting in serious injury or death to another person can also be felonies, regardless of the driver’s prior record.

Consequences of felony DUI

Felony DUI charges carry severe consequences. These might include substantial fines, lengthy imprisonment and long-term license revocation. In addition to legal penalties, those convicted of felony DUI may face social stigma. They may also experience difficulty finding employment and rebuilding their lives after serving their sentence. Recognizing the potential consequences of felony DUI charges underscores the importance of responsible driving and seeking alternative transportation options.

Rehabilitation and support

For those facing DUI charges, seeking rehabilitation and support can help address underlying issues related to alcohol or substance abuse. Many states, including Virginia, offer diversion programs and substance abuse treatment options for those charged with DUI offenses. They do so to emphasize rehabilitation over punitive measures. Seeking help and taking proactive steps to address alcohol or substance abuse can lead to positive outcomes. Doing so can also reduce the risk of future DUI incidents.

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission notes that there were 309,924 DUI arrests statewide between 2010 and 2021. Of those arrested, 5% faced felony DUI charges.