Alabama considers a driver to be "driving under the influence" (DUI) if operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most Alabama DUIs are misdemeanors. But when factors exist that elevate a DUI to a felony, the penalties can be substantially more severe.
Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DUI charges in Alabama.
Alabama law counts only DUI convictions occurring in the last ten years when calculating penalties. For a first, second, or third DUI conviction in ten years, the offense will generally be a misdemeanor. However, a fourth DUI conviction within a ten-year period can be charged as a class C felony.
A class C felony DUI will typically result in $4,100 to $10,100 in fines and one to ten years in jail. A judge can grant probation, but required conditions of probation include ten days in jail, completion of a chemical dependency program, and possible alcohol monitoring. For the conviction, the driver's license will also be revoked for five years, followed by four years of an ignition interlock restriction.
While Alabama law normally looks back only ten years for DUI prior convictions, felony DUI convictions are treated differently. Once a person is convicted of a 4th offense (felony DUI), all future DUI convictions will be considered class C felonies and penalized as such.
While not considered "felony DUIs," an impaired driver who injures or kills someone can be charged with other felony offenses. For example, an impaired driver who causes serious injury to someone can be charged with class B felony assault of the first degree. A conviction carries two to twenty years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines. Also, it's possible for a DUI offender who kills someone to be charged with negligent homicide, manslaughter, or even murder. All these offenses are serious felony crimes and carry heavy penalties.