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What Is a Felony DUI in California?

What Is a Felony DUI in California?

While driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, commonly known as DUI, is always considered a serious criminal charge in California, certain circumstances can affect whether prosecutors charge an alleged offender with a misdemeanor or felony DUI.

Usually, DUI is charged as a misdemeanor. Make no mistake—this does not mean that the charge and the possible penalties are not serious. A misdemeanor DUI conviction can cause steep fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. However, when there are certain aggravating factors present, a DUI can be charged as a felony. Unsurprisingly, a felony DUI conviction will carry even harsher penalties than a conviction for a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23153 it is against the law to injure someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08% or more; or .04% or more for commercial drivers). The prosecution must prove the driver’s actions were a direct cause of injury to another person.

 Prosecutors may charge a suspect with Felony DUI under the following circumstances:

  • The DUI resulted in an accident that caused bodily injury or death to another person; or
  • The alleged offender has three or more prior DUI or “Wet Reckless” convictions within the previous 10 years; or
  • The alleged offender has been convicted of Felony DUI previously.

If these circumstances are true, you could be facing felony DUI charges. It is important that you speak to a qualified DUI defense lawyer who can help you understand your charges, prepare a strong defense, provide you with your legal options, negotiate a settlement or go to trial. If you were arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County, whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony DUI charges, contact the criminal defense lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners and learn what legal options are available to you.

PENALTIES

Penalties for Felony DUI (without injury) in California typically include:

  • Up to 3 years in jail or prison;
  • Several thousand dollars in fines & fees;
  • Mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to four years;
  • 30 months of DUI school;
  • Restitution to the victim(s) if any.

Penalties for a first-offense Felony DUI resulting in injury in California include:

  • Up to 3 years in state prison; 1 year is added for every victim, and if the injury was considered a “Great Bodily Injury” (GBI) the prosecutor can add another 3 years;

The DUI with GBI would be a “Strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law;

  • Up to $5,000 in fines & fees;
  • Restitution to injured party/parties;
  • Driver’s license suspension of up to five years;
  • 30 months of DUI school.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Without Gross Negligence)

If the prosecution can prove that a person was killed because of the unlawful or negligent operation of a motor vehicle by a drunk driver (BAC .08% or higher), the crime would be punishable by up to 4 years in state prison [Penal Code Section 191.5(b)].

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (With Gross Negligence)

A driver can be prosecuted for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter if the driver, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is driving with gross negligence, causes an accident in which another person is killed. This felony is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison (Penal Code Section 191.5(a)). Gross negligence means the driver acted in a reckless manner that created a high risk of death or bodily injury and a reasonable person would have known acting that way would create such a risk.

Experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorneys in Your Corner

Being convicted of a Felony DUI comes with life-changing consequences. If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with Felony DUI in Los Angeles County, contact the experienced attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a free and confidential consultation and learn what legal options are available to you.

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