Quality Legal Services For New Jersey’s Citizens

When can drunk driving become a felony in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | DUI

In New Jersey, a conviction for driving under the influence can escalate to a felony under certain circumstances. Felony DUIs carry more severe legal consequences. Most DUI offenses are misdemeanors. However, aggravating factors have the potential to elevate the charge.

Understanding these circumstances helps drivers make responsible decisions and avoid serious legal repercussions.

Circumstances that can lead to felony charges

A common scenario where a DUI becomes a felony is when the driver has multiple prior DUI convictions. Repeat offenders may face felony charges. This is especially likely if their previous convictions occurred within a specified timeframe. If a DUI incident results in serious injuries or fatalities, the driver may also face vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charges. Both are felony offenses.

If a driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds a certain threshold, the driver may face enhanced penalties, including the possibility of felony charges. A high BAC level can be an aggravating factor in DUI cases, especially if it exceeds the legal limit by quite a bit.

Consequences of felony DUI convictions

The consequences of a felony DUI can be severe and life-altering. Felony DUI offenders may face substantial fines, lengthy license suspensions, mandatory participation in alcohol education or treatment programs and imprisonment. In addition to the legal penalties, a felony DUI conviction can have long-term consequences. For example, those with felonies may struggle to obtain employment, housing or professional licenses.

Per Responsibility.org, there were 21,112 DUI arrests in New Jersey in 2019. By recognizing the factors that can elevate a DUI charge to a felony, individuals can take steps to prevent impaired driving and prioritize the safety of themselves and others on the road.