A DUI, or driving under the influence, is typically defined as a misdemeanor, as described by DUIFoundation.org. However, there are circumstances that can justify raising the level of the offense to a felony. Those circumstances are dependent on the state and their standards for defining DUI’s.
DUI is also commonly referred to as DWI, for driving while intoxicated. DUIMisdemeanor.org explains that for first time offenders the charge of DUI is usually a misdemeanor. If the offender has been charged with multiple DUI offenses the charge may be raised to a felony. In some states, if the offense involves bodily injury to a victim the charge can automatically be designated as a felony.
Punishments vary depending on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The penalty for misdemeanors is generally a fine or jail sentence of a year or less. Felonies are punishable by larger fines and jail sentences of a year or more.