What is a felony DUI in California?
Any time a driver operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of over .08 percent, they may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. A standard DUI charge is classified as a misdemeanor in California, and can result in multiple of the following consequences for first-time offenders:
- Three to five years of probation
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
- Mandatory alcohol treatment program
- Driver’s license suspension for six months
- Installation of an interlock device in your vehicle of six months.
However, certain aggravating circumstances can result in a felony DUI charge in California, which will likely result in more serious consequences. These aggravating circumstances may include:
- Serious injury (e.g., loss of body part, permanent disfigurement, long-term disability) or death caused by drunk driving
- Three or more DUI convictions within a 10-year-period
- Previous felony DUI conviction
If you are convicted of felony drunk driving, you could face up to four years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, a license revocation of up to five years, and various other consequences. You should also consider the following:
- If there is a great bodily injury, there may a sentencing enhancement of three years added on to the number of years in your prison sentence.
- If there is a death, you may also be charged with second-degree murder, and a conviction could result in 15 years to life in prison.
Additionally, anyone with a felony could also face other consequences outside of their sentence, including:
- Loss of voting rights
- Loss of employment or professional license
- Loss of gun ownership rights
- Deportation/citizenship denial
No matter how bleak things seem, a criminal defense attorney can provide you with the best chance possible at receiving a lighter sentence. For example, in felony DUI cases involving in a serious injury, a defense attorney may be able to have your charges reduced by arguing that the injury is not as serious as the prosecution is making it out to be. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible may be extremely beneficial, particularly if you are facing felony charges.