The penalties for drunk driving are severe, and increase with the number of times that individuals are charged. Generally speaking, the first few OWI convictions will be considered a misdemeanor. That can change to a felony, however, which may result in a more severe punishment, including a prison sentence that can range from 6 months to 20 years. It also leads to higher fines, lengthier probations and other potential penalties. While OWI laws vary, there are some general guidelines.
When the first OWI is a felony
Drivers can be charged with a felony for the following reasons:
- Your actions caused serious bodily injury (Level 6 felony) or death (Level 5 minimum) to victims
- You have a passenger under the age of 18 (Level 6)
When a repeat offense becomes a felony
Initial charges generally lead to a minimum suspension of 30 days, but your license will be revoked for up to two years if it is a second offense. They become felonies for the following reasons:
- If you are charged within five years of a prior conviction (Level 6 or Level 5 if previous offense injured or killed a victim)
- Causes injury or death to a victim (Level 5 or 4)
- Causes death of a law enforcement animal (level 6)
Protecting your future
We often write about how it is important to contact an attorney if you have been d with an OWI. It becomes even more necessary if those OWI charges are a felony. These penalties are life changing and involve a criminal record that may be a red flag for many employers and organizations.