When a driver faces a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Mississippi, their first offense leads to a misdemeanor when convicted. Compared to a felony, a misdemeanor conviction carries a shorter prison sentence and lower fines.
But DUIs can lead to felony convictions under the right conditions. When does this happen, and what can you expect if you’re charged with a felony DUI?
Felony conviction from third offense onward
If a court convicts a driver of DUI for the third time, and it was the driver’s third offense in the last five years, then the DUI is a felony. The conviction carries a maximum fine of $5,000 on top of any state assessments and court costs and up to five years in prison. Officials will also suspend the driver’s license while they’re incarcerated. Upon the driver’s release, they must apply for and use an ignition interlock-restricted driver’s license for three years.
A driver who faces their fourth or subsequent DUI conviction will also be convicted of a felony. Notably, there’s no five-year “look back” period, which means a court can convict a driver regardless of how much time has passed between their first, second, third and fourth offenses, for as long as the driver committed their fourth or subsequent DUI offense. This conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail. In addition, the driver’s license will remain suspended for their prison sentence, and they’ll have to use an interlock-restricted license for ten years. A court can also order a driver convicted for the fourth time to participate in an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.
DUIs can and will lead to felony convictions if authorities catch a driver offending enough times. These convictions can last for life on record and ruin a person’s employment opportunities. Drivers facing DUIs shouldn’t treat the charges lightly and should consider consulting with legal professionals to understand how to defend themselves in court.