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When does a DUI charge become a felony in Missouri?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

When charged with a DUI in Missouri, the penalties for a conviction can vary. The most severe will be if there is a felony charge. There are five categories of felony DUI in the state ranging from Class A to Class E. When facing charges, it is important to understand how the case will be categorized as this will be crucial to the defense.

Understanding the different types of felony DUI in Missouri

Drivers arrested for felony DUI should know the difference between an aggravated offender, a chronic offender, a prior offender and a persistent offender. An aggravated offender has three or more DUIs or has a guilty plea or conviction of at least one intoxication offense with involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder.

A chronic offender has four or more past guilty pleas or adjudications for DUIs or had two guilty results of involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. A persistent offender has two or more cases in which they were found guilty or pleaded guilty of intoxication offenses or were found guilty or issued a guilty plea for involuntary manslaughter while committing a DUI. A prior offender will have been found guilty of one previous traffic offense due to intoxication within five years of the new charge.

It is a Class E felony if the person is a persistent offender or during the DUI was criminally negligent in causing physical injury to another person. There will be a Class D felony charge if it was an aggravated offender, they behaved with criminal negligence to injure law enforcement or emergency responders, or they were criminally negligent in injuring another person.

A Class C felony will be for a chronic offender who committed the same acts as for a Class D felony. A Class B felony is for a habitual offender with the same hallmarks as Class C and D felonies or, during the DUI, led to the death of a person who was not a passenger in the vehicle. It is also a Class B felony if at least two people are killed or the driver has a blood-alcohol concentration of .0018%. A prior conviction for any aspect of a Class B felony will automatically result in a Class A felony charge.

It is vital to fight felony DUI charges and to have professional help

While a DUI incident with injuries and death will automatically appear as if the person is guilty, there are still avenues of defense that can help with achieving a positive result. The entire case must be scrutinized to try and determine how to proceed. Consulting with experienced professionals can begin the process of planning a defense.