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When is a DUI a Felony?

Driving under the influence (DUI), known as Operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) in Ohio is a serious criminal offense that poses substantial short- and long-term consequences to those who are convicted. While any DUI / OVI offense can result in fines, imprisonment, a criminal record, driver’s license suspension, probation, and other penalties, there are certain situations where drivers can face even stiffer charges and penalties for OVI.

At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, our Dayton DUI / OVI attorneys have cultivated a record of success protecting the rights, freedoms, and futures of clients charged with operating a vehicle impaired. While most DUI cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors, there are times when these charges can be elevated to felonies. Those are the times when working with a proven DUI defense firm becomes critical.

In Ohio, a DUI / OVI can be elevated to a felony when certain aggravating circumstances are involved. These include:

  • Multiple convictions – Ohio takes a tough stance on habitual offenders, or drivers who have had multiple convictions for OVI in the past. Under state law, you can be charged with a felony if you are convicted of a fourth DUI / OVI within 6 years. Additionally, you can be charged with a felony is you are convicted of a sixth DUI / OVI within 20 years.
  • DUI causing injury – You can face felony charges for aggravated vehicular assault if you cause an accident that causes serious harm to another person while driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Aggravated vehicular assault can be prosecuted as a third-degree felony, which carries penalties that include up to $10k in fines and up to 5 years in prison. In cases where additional aggravating circumstances are present, such as driving on a suspended license or having prior OVI convictions, the charge can be elevated to a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by up to 8 years in state prison.
  • DUI causing death – Aggravated vehicular homicide is the most serious DUI / OVI offense a person can face in the state of Ohio, and it is prosecuted in cases involving fatal collisions. Depending on the facts of the case, this charge can be prosecuted as a felony of the first, second, or third degree, all of which impose mandatory terms of imprisonment.
  • Prior felony DUI – If you have been convicted of a felony DUI / OVI for any reason in the past, any new DUI / OVI charge will be prosecuted as a felony, regardless of whether the offense itself constitutes a felony and regardless of whether any prior convictions are beyond the state’s lookback period.

When an OVI becomes a felony, anyone facing the charges should understand that the stakes are far higher than those in misdemeanor DUI cases. Felony allegations can threaten a person’s reputation, profession, financial stability, and future. They are also grounds for sentences in a state prison. Additionally, felony DUI / OVI convictions can subject drivers to lengthy license suspensions or revocations, substantial fines and fees, loss of civil rights such as voting and gun ownership, and the repercussions of having a felony on one’s criminal record, among other consequences.

If you or someone you loved stands accused of felony DUI / OVI, working with a proven defense firm should be your primary concern. Our legal team is led by Attorney L. Partrick Mulligan, a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. By drawing from Attorney Mulligan’s expertise and the insight of our entire legal team, we are able to provide the aggressive and effective defense clients need when everything is on the line.

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