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When Is a DUI a Felony in Oregon?


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Whether this is your first time facing a criminal investigation over a DUI arrest or your third, you might be curious about what your future will possibly look like after your trial, even before you speak with your legal defense team or a judge. Will you end up with a minor charge or a serious crime on your record if you're convicted?

A misdemeanor is a minor crime on your record that could land you with up to five years probations, some fines, or even up to a year of jail time. A felony is much more serious, with stricter punishments and a crippling social stigma attached. Typically, a DUI charge in Oregon will be a misdemeanor, but are there cases when a DUI is a felony charge in Oregon?

The answer is yes.

It helps to first understand how Oregon classifies a DUI differently than other states. For example, you may have heard the terms "aggravated DUI" or "extreme DUI"; Oregon does not use these terms in DUI convictions.

Generally, there is no U.S. state that will charge a first offense DUI as a felony. In Oregon, in the vast majority of cases a driver would be not be charged with a felony until they have had two previous DUI convictions within the previous ten years (prior to 2010 it was three previous convictions). Because of the popular diversion program Oregon offers for first-time DUI convictions, a driver could technically have three previous arrests for DUI, with two of them still standing as convictions, before being charged with a felony DUI.

Keep in mind that sentencing is on a case-by-case basis. Circumstances and prior criminal charges are taken into account by the court with a DUI sentencing. The efforts of your legal representation make a difference. Judges have their own feelings on cases, but all are well aware that the average drunk driver has driven intoxicated around 80 times before their first arrest, and an individual seeming to fall into the lower or higher end of that statistic will effect their sentencing.

Wondering what to do when being charged with a crime is often frightening and confusing, especially a highly stigmatized crime such as a DUI. Trust in your legal defense team and consult with them for any questions and concerns you have about your options and rights. It's quite literally their job to give you the best protection possible.