When Does a DWUI Become a Felony?

Any DWUI (Driving While Under the Influence) charge is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Most DWUI offenses are misdemeanors, punishable by fines and not more than one year in jail. But in certain circumstances, a DWUI charge can be a felony, which carries more severe penalties and could involve a sentence of more than a year in prison.

Is a Wyoming DWUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

In Wyoming, a non-commercial driver is considered legally under the influence if their blood alcohol level is .08% or higher. Drivers of commercial vehicles are considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol level is .04% or higher.

If this is your first, second, or third DWUI in ten years and there are no aggravating factors, your DWUI charge will most likely be a misdemeanor, punishable by less than one year in prison.

You can be charged with felony DWUI if you are convicted of a fourth DWUI charge in ten years, if someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident you caused while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you are charged with a second DWUI in five years and have someone under the age of of 16 in the vehicle with you.

Fourth DWUI Charge in Ten Years

A Wyoming DWUI will be charged as a felony if it is your fourth DWUI charge in 10 years. The penalties for a conviction can include:

  • Up to seven years in jail
  • Fines of up to $10,000, plus court costs
  • Mandatory attendance at a state-approved substance abuse program at your expense
  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) after the license suspension period
  • Mandatory revocation of your driver’s license for a time determined by the judge

Felony DWUI for Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury

If someone else is seriously injured or killed in an accident you caused because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face felony DWUI charges and face penalties, including a minimum fine of $2,000 and up to ten years in prison. If this is your second such offense, you face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

A serious bodily injury is one that:

  • Creates a substantial risk of death
  • Causes severe protracted physical pain
  • Causes severe disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily function
  • Causes unconsciousness or a concussion resulting in protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty
  • Causes burns of the second or third degree over a significant portion of the body
  • Or causes a significant fracture or break of a bone

Felony DWUI with a Child in the Car

If you are charged with your second DWUI in five years with someone under the age of 16 in the vehicle with you, you could face felony DWUI charges. Conviction carries a penalty of up to five years in jail. These enhanced penalties only apply if the driver is over the age of 18.

Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction

Any felony conviction carries consequences that can last a lifetime. You could forfeit many basic civil rights, including the right to vote, the right to sit on a jury, and the right to own or possess a firearm.

Some employers will not hire convicted felons, and you may be prohibited from certain careers, such as jobs in law enforcement, schools, and hospitals. A felony conviction can also make it difficult to obtain financial aid to further your education.

If you already have a professional license, a felony conviction could mean that you forfeit your license or jeopardize your ability to work in your chosen field.

Charged with a DWUI? Contact Just Criminal Law Today

If you are facing felony DWUI charges in Wyoming, getting help from an experienced DWUI defense team is crucial. The Just Criminal Law should be your first call. Our DWUI defense team has decades of experience defending people accused of DWUI in Wyoming and South Dakota. Contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.