When is a DUI Considered a Felony in Los Angeles County?

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When you are arrested and charged with a DUI you California DUI attorney will first seek to clarify the exact charges that you are up against. Most California first, second, and third DUI convictions are misdemeanors but under certain circumstances, you could be facing a felony, the most serious form of criminal charge. Felonies carry severe, life-altering penalties in the form of mandatory prison sentences, heavy fines and loss of driving privileges.

There are several instances where a DUI could be charged as a felony. If you caused injury or death while driving under the influence, if you have had three or more DUI convictions during the previous ten years, or if you have had a previous felony DUI conviction the DUI charges could be a felony. The type of felony you are charged with depends on the facts that are unique to your case, your criminal record and the prosecutor in charge of your case.

If while driving under the influence you were driving negligently and caused an accident where another person was injured or killed, you could be charged under California Vehicle Code 23513 VC, “driving under the influence causing injury.” You could also be charged with DUI vehicular manslaughter or DUI murder. Prior offenses include a DUI or “wet reckless” committed in California, or a DUI-equivalent conviction committed out of state. A “wet reckless” is a charge that is commonly levied when DUI charged are reduced through a plea bargain. You can not be initially charged with wet reckless.

The ultimate goal of DUI laws is to save lives, so when a person is killed by an intoxicated driver the penalties are severe. Depending on the number of prior DUI convictions, if someone is killed by the negligence of a drunk driver, the driver could be found guilty of a felony and incarcerated for up to five years in state prison. The more prior convictions, the longer the prison term. The penalties for a California felony DUI include an 180-day minimum jail sentence, a $3,000 fine, a driver’s license suspension of four years, and the completion of an 18-month alcohol education program. You will also have a felony conviction on your criminal record preventing you from ever owning a firearm. You also con not vote while in jail or on parole. If you are charged with a California DUI you need an attorney that specializes in California DUI law. Call our firm the moment you are arrested and taken into custody.

Sources: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-laws-state/penalties-dui-california.htm

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