There are a number of crimes or misdemeanor that can be committed and charged as either a crime or a felony. Driving under the influence and its peer are one of those crimes. The offense can be a misdemeanor or a felony based on a number of times a person has been charged and convicted of the offense.
In the majority of states, at least the first two driving under the influence charges and sentence are considered misdemeanor offenses. After the first two or sometimes three charges and condemnation, a person graduates to felony DUI or DWI. It is also likely to "upgrade" to the felony if there are other factors besides just having been drinking and driving. Some circumstance that can upgrade a misdemeanor drunken driving charge to a felony includes being in an accident and killing or injuring another person while driving drunk.You can also visit this http://www.omofomalaw.com/dui-becomes-felony-california/ to know more on DUI.
The penalties for each type of driving under the influence are drastically changed as well. For a misdemeanor in general, a person is usually not going to be expected to serve more than a year in prison. Once a crime hits the imprisonment for a year or more limit, the crime becomes a felony. Those who have been charged with a felony drunk driving offense face much severe punishments, both in terms of monetary punishments and confinement or prison time.
When upgrading a drunken driving charge from a misdemeanor to a felony based on the number of previous convictions, there are often time limits on the period in question. It is not a question of the number of convictions in an entire life so much as the number of convictions within an X year period. So if a person has a conviction for driving under the influence at 22 and then another one at 38 or so, it is likely that the person will not have his or her first conviction counted against him or her during sentencing or charges for the new arrest.