First and foremost, what is a DUI and can you own a gun if you have a DUI? DUI means driving under the influence. Normally, anyone convicted of a felony can’t own a handgun. However, it’s essential that you acquaint yourself with both federal and state DUI laws so that you can have a better understanding of the matter.
State laws regarding DUI and possession of a gun differ from one state to another. One reason why it is pretty hard to give a direct answer on whether one can own a gun with a DUI is the fact that a DUI can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony depend on factors such as prior convictions, injuries that occurred as the result of your drunk driving and the presence of other passengers. In the case your drunk driving charge is a first offense and no one sustained injuries, most states will classify it as a misdemeanor. In some cases, with a first offense, a person can plea to a lesser charge like reckless driving. This however may require the help of a DUI lawyer.
In case it is the second or third time or manslaughter was involved, it will most likely be classified as a felony offense. This has more serious as well as long-term consequences.
In Wyoming and New York, two DUI charges within a span of ten years will earn you a felony, while other states including Texas and Georgia move DUI charges into felony status when you have been convicted more than twice.
Under Federal Law, anyone convicted of felony is not allowed to possess or buy any firearm. Although it is quite rare, there are some states that allow convicted felons to buy handguns but only after a certain duration has passed since the completion of their probation. Additionally, most states do not allow convicted felons to own or buy handguns without a governor’s pardon.
Although it is quite straightforward to conclude that felons are not allowed to buy or possess guns, it is trickier to determine the fate of someone who is facing a misdemeanor charge because state laws vary from one state to another. Furthermore, different states give misdemeanor cases different classes and guns laws apply to different misdemeanor groups differently.
For instance, in Texas, the term DUI is used to refer to minors driving under the influence while DWI is used to refer to adults. The first DWI charge in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor followed by a Class A misdemeanor and the third is a felony. Additionally, driving under the influence with a child passenger is also considered a felony in Texas. Anyone living in Texas that has been convicted of a Class A or B misdemeanor in the past five years isn’t allowed to buy a handgun. Furthermore, if the person has been convicted twice of the same offense within the past ten years, then he or she won’t be allowed to buy a gun.
The fact is that it is tricky to determine whether or not you can own a gun if you have a DUI, especially if the offense is a misdemeanor. You might find that one state is slightly lenient while another is very strict. However, the bottom line is that there are states that allow you to own a gun if you have a DUI provided the offense must not have occurred less than five years ago or twice in the past ten years. Additionally, in some states it is possible to own a gun if you have a DUI provided you get your governor’s pardon.