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When is a DUI considered a felony in California?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

In California, driving under the influence is typically classified as a misdemeanor. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, prosecutors may decide to charge you with a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

Here a few possible situations when drunk driving may become a felony in California:

  • Several prior convictions: If the driver has three or more prior DUI convictions within 10 years, the fourth DUI offense in that same 10-year period may result in felony charges.
  • Prior felony DUI: A prior felony DUI conviction on the driver’s record may result in future DUI charges may also be elevated to felonies.
  • Injury or death: If the driver causes an accident resulting in an injury or death, he or she may face felony DUI charges.

What are the consequences of a felony DUI?

A standard misdemeanor DUI may result in up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. You may also be required to take an alcohol rehabilitation class and be put on informal probation.

Felony DUI consequences are typically much more serious. A felony DUI may result in up to three years in prison, up to $1,000 in fines, and license suspension or revocation for up to four years. Aggravating or mitigating factors may also impact your sentence.

A felony DUI conviction can also have real world consequences. Those with a felony DUI conviction on their record may find it difficult to find a job or obtain housing. They may also lose certain rights, such as the right to vote.

The best thing to do is to avoid these serious consequences by coming up with an effective drunk driving defense strategy to protect yourself. Successful DUI defense strategies often revolve around proving the illegality of the initial traffic stop or disputing the validity of the breath or chemical test results.