Solano County Felony DUI Attorney
When could I be charged with felony DUI in California?
In the state of California, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or greater and/or while under the immediate influence of drugs—including prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. While a standard DUI would typically be charged as a misdemeanor, there are certain "aggravating factors" that could make this crime a felony. For example, drunk driving would be charged as a misdemeanor as long as the defendant has not been convicted of more than three DUI or wet reckless offenses in a ten-year period of time.
Although the penalties would be significantly increased for each subsequent offense, it would not become a felony until the defendant has been charged with their fourth DUI. Additionally, one could be charged with felony DUI if they have caused an accident that injured or killed another person and/or they have previously been convicted of at least one other felony DUI. In short, the following factors would lead to felony charges:
- You have been convicted of three prior DUI or wet reckless offenses
- You have been convicted of at least one prior felony DUI
- You have caused an accident that resulted in another's injury or death
What if I'm facing my fourth DUI conviction in ten years?
Each time you are charged and/or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in California, the penalties become more and more severe. Since drunk driving is known as a "priorable offense," the penalties for each subsequent offense are stiffer than the last. It is not until you have been charged with your fourth DUI or wet reckless offense in a ten-year period of time that the crime would become a felony, however, as the first three would still be charged as misdemeanors.
Although most people assume that this rule would only apply to drunk driving arrests that are sustained in California, it is important to understand that out-of-state convictions would also apply—as long as they would have been charged as the equivalent of a DUI in California. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you seek the guidance of a Solano County criminal defense lawyer from Maas Law Offices if you have been arrested for your fourth DUI.
What if I was involved in an accident that injured or killed another person?
If you were involved in a drunk driving accident that resulted in the injury or death of another person, it is possible that the prosecution will charge you with felony DUI. Although this offense is considered to be a "wobbler"—which means that it could be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony—cases of this nature are typically treated with the utmost seriousness. California Vehicle Code 23513 VC does state that three specific elements must exist in order for the prosecution to charge the defendant with DUI causing injury, however, as it would otherwise be treated as a misdemeanor. These factors include:
- You were driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- You violated a traffic law or acted in an otherwise negligent manner
- Your unlawful or negligent actions injured or killed another person
What if I already have one felony DUI on my record?
Although this may not necessarily seem fair, you would automatically be charged with felony DUI if you have at least one prior felony DUI on your record. Even if the subsequent offense would have otherwise been treated as a misdemeanor and/or no aggravating factors existed, the law states that you must be charged with a felony. This would typically be the case if a) you have previously been convicted of DUI causing injury, DUI vehicular manslaughter or DUI second-degree murder or b) you have previously been convicted of four prior DUI offenses—even if the current DUI falls outside of the ten-year period of time. For this reason, you would have even more of a reason to fight your charges if you have been arrested for your fourth DUI in ten years, as any subsequent arrest would result in
felony charges. Fortunately, you can acquire the aggressive defense that you will need when you enlist the help of a Solano County criminal attorney from Maas Law Offices.
What are the penalties for felony DUI in California?
If you have been charged with felony DUI in California for any of the aforementioned reasons, it is imperative that you move quickly to enlist the help of an experienced legal professional. In doing so, you may stand a much better chance of successfully avoiding the following penalties:
- Fourth Misdemeanor DUI: Up to 1 year in jail, license revocation for 4 years, 18-month alcohol education program and $390 to $1,000 in fines.
- DUI Causing Injury: Up to 4 years in prison, license revocation for 5 years, 30-month alcohol education program and $1,015 to $5,000 in fines.
- DUI Vehicular Manslaughter: Up to 4 years in prison and $10,000 in fines (sentence could be enhanced by 3 to 6 years if a surviving victim suffers injury).
- DUI Second-Degree Murder: 15 years to life in prison and $10,000 in fines (sentence could be enhanced by 3 to 6 years if a surviving victim suffers injury).
If you are interested in learning more about how the aggressive legal team at Maas Law Offices can help, call our office today at (800) 483-0992. You can also reach us online by filling out the free case evaluation form that is conveniently located on our website.