Is a DUI a Felony in California?
I’d like to talk to you about when a DUI is considered a felony in California.
There are three circumstances in which you could be looking at a felony DUI:
- Let’s talk about the first one. The first one is really dependent upon how many prior DUI convictions you have on your record within a 10 year period. And what do I mean by that? If you have three or more DUI’s within a 10 year period and you’re looking at a 4th DUI within that same time span, then you could be looking at a DUI as a felony because of your multiple prior DUI convictions.
- The second circumstance in which you could be facing a felony DUI is if you’re involved in some sort of accident that you caused while you were driving under the influence. And in doing so, if a person or people were seriously injured or killed as a result of your actions. So what do I mean by that? Let’s say that you’re driving and you’re under the influence of alcohol and or on drugs, and let’s say that you commit another type of vehicle code violation or you’re driving negligently while you’re driving under the influence. And in doing so, if you cause someone else to sustain injuries or get killed, then in that circumstance you could be looking at a felony DUI with some serious consequences.
- Now the third circumstance in which you could be facing a DUI as a felony is if you were previously convicted of a felony DUI. Now what’s crucial about this is that let’s say that you have a previous DUI felony conviction and then you pick up another DUI in which no one was injured and there was no accident. Otherwise it would just be known as a misdemeanor DUI. Well because you have a prior felony conviction, then you could be looking at a felony in the future.
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Now there are very serious and significant consequences if you’re facing a DUI as a felony.
As a felony DUI you’re looking at up to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison if convicted, or up to one year in county jail, which is not including any kind of additional sentencing enhancements. Sentencing enhancements mean if the victims involved were seriously injured and there are additional enhancements such as a great bodily injury enhancement, then that sentence could be increased as a result of those penalties.
Now what you’re also looking at is a potential second degree murder conviction. If you were previously convicted of a misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI and then you get another DUI in which you kill someone while driving under the influence and if those circumstances apply to you, then you could be looking at what’s called a “second degree murder charge” or a “Watson murder,” because the reasoning is that you are placed on notice that driving under the influence is inherently dangerous to human life.
So as you can see the punishment and the potential consequences are very high when it comes to a felony DUI.
At my firm we invest in you as much as you invest in yourself and your future and I can’t stress the significance of how crucial it is to conduct a thorough investigation especially if you’re facing a felony DUI with such serious consequences.
And the reason I say that is because there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to analyzing a DUI:
- Whether it’s assessing and attacking the validity of a blood sample.
- Whether the blood sample was taken correctly in accordance with the rules and regulations that are in place.
- Whether the blood sample was preserved correctly.
- Whether we need to hire an expert to retest the sampling of the blood.
- And if you submitted to a chemical breath test, of course we have to look at whether the test the equipment for the test was maintained properly.
- Whether the results were accurate in testing the calibration records to determine that it was properly maintained.
- And also to determine if the officer administered the exams correctly in accordance with the rules and regulations that are in place.
So as you can see, there are a lot of factors to look into and that’s why it’s so crucial to make sure that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Whether it’s my firm or another firm who knows what to look for and to spot the legal issues, and because I was served as a former prosecutor and I’ve handled hundreds of DUI’s both from a prosecutor’s perspective and a defense perspective, my team and I can help you navigate the system to spot the legal issues and know how to best communicate and negotiate with the government.
If these things are important to you to protect your future, to protect your job, to protect your liberties, and to protect your freedom, then make sure to give us a call, because we would be more than happy to sit down with you and to give you a free legal consultation. We look forward to hearing from you soon.