The vast majority of those arrested for DUI in California are charged with misdemeanor drunk driving. However, a California felony DUI is a possibility in some cases. There are four different sets of circumstances in which a person arrested for a California DUI could be charged with felony drunk driving:
- The person charged with DUI has three or more drunk driving convictions within the past ten years.
- The person charged with DUI has a prior conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and when committed during the operation of a vehicle, or felonious vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated but with gross negligence.
- The person charged with DUI has been convicted of another charge of felony drunk driving or felony gross vehicular manslaughter in the previous ten years.
- The act of drunk driving caused bodily injury or death to another party (the bodily injury can be minor; it does not necessarily have to be a serious injury).
From a defense perspective, a California felony DUI charge is a game changer. If convicted, your license can be suspended for as many as five years, and you face six months to four years in prison. In addition, a felony DUI record can prevent you from obtaining a job, owning or possessing a gun, obtaining a professional license, receiving student loans, and many other limitations that can permanently lower the quality of your life and limit your freedom.
In addition, if someone is killed in the course of a DUI, you can receive a “strike” on your record, and face as much as life in prison.
We believe that anyone arrested for DUI in California needs quality legal representation. In the case of a California felony DUI arrest, skilled legal counsel is absolutely imperative. That’s because in many cases, it is possible for a felony DUI charge to be reduced to a misdemeanor through a plea bargain, or successfully defended in the courtroom.