When Is a DUI a Felony in California?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Jul 29, 2020 | DUI

Are you wondering when a DUI is a felony in California? The knowledgeable lawyers at the Rodriguez Law Group are always happy to provide our friends and neighbors in Los Angeles with the information they require. Here’s what you need to know about drunk driving charges in LA.

Driving Under the Influence – Understanding the Law

Per section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, it is unlawful for anyone that has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08 percent to drive a motor vehicle. Law enforcement officers usually measure a driver’s BAC by administering a breath or blood test.

The California Vehicle Code also states that it is illegal for a person that is driving a commercial car or truck in the Golden State to have a BAC of more than 0.04 percent. For motorists under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.01 percent.

When California motorists violate the state’s drunk driving laws, they can get into a lot of trouble. It is not unusual for them to spend time in jail, lose their license, or pay hefty fines.

However, violations of this nature do not ordinarily result in a felony conviction. The state almost always classifies them as civil offenses or misdemeanors.

Are you facing a misdemeanor drunk driving charge in California? If so, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Rodriguez Law Group. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have been handling cases like yours for years. We’re ready to go to battle on your behalf.

When Can California Prosecutors Charge Drunk Driving as a Felony?

Though most drunk driving offenses in California are misdemeanors, the state can charge transgressions of this nature as felonies under certain circumstances, such as:

Causing Injury or Death

When California motorists drive under the influence of alcohol and cause a collision that results in another person sustaining an injury or losing their life, prosecutors can charge them with a felony. The exact type of felony they face depends on the nature of their crash and the impact it had on the other party.

When these collisions cause someone to endure physical or mental pain, prosecuting attorneys ordinarily charge the motorist with DUI causing injury – an offense outlined in section 23153 of the California Vehicle Code.

When California drunk drivers accidentally collide with another road user and cause them to lose their life, prosecutors charge them with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated – a criminal offense under section 191.5 of the California Penal Code.

If the prosecutor believes they can prove that the motorist intended to kill the other individual, they may also charge them with a Watson murder (second-degree DUI murder) – an offense detailed in section 187 of the California Penal Code.

Having Multiple Prior DUI Convictions

The state of California classifies drunk driving as a “priorable crime.” This designation means that the penalties associated with offenses of this nature become more stringent with each conviction.

When a Los Angeles motorist with three previous DUI convictions on their record in the past ten years is caught drunk driving once again, they can face a felony charge.

Having a Prior Felony DUI

In the state of California, once a motorist has a felony drunk driving conviction on their record, prosecutors treat every subsequent DUI offense as a felony. Even a minor infraction that does not cause any injuries can result in a felony charge.

The California DUI defense attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group have been helping the residents of Los Angeles fight back against their felony drunk driving charges for many years. Our team knows what it takes to win these types of cases. If you would like to have us go to bat for you, please give us a call as soon as possible.

Consequences of a Felony DUI Conviction in Los Angeles

The consequences of a felony drunk driving conviction in the state of California depend on the facts surrounding the offender’s arrest and the charge that the prosecutor chooses to levy:

Punishments for DUIs Causing Injury or Death

When Los Angeles drunk drivers kill or injury another road user, they may face the following penalties:

  • Up to 16 years in a California state prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • A driver’s license suspension of five years
  • Enrollment in 30 months of DUI school

Punishments for Having Multiple Prior DUIs

California motorists who receive felony DUI convictions because of their prior record can face the following punishments:

  • Up to 3 years in a California state prison
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension of four years
  • Enrollment in 30 months of DUI school

Punishments for Having a Prior Felony DUI

When the fact that a driver has a prior felony DUI conviction causes them to receive another, they may face penalties like:

  • Up to 3 years in a California state prison
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension of four years
  • Enrollment in 30 months of DUI school

Collateral Consequences of Felony DUI Convictions in California

When the state of California convicts drivers of a felony DUI, it doesn’t just fine them, suspend their license, or send them to prison. It also hands them a permanent criminal record. This record is likely to cause them to experience collateral consequences, like:

  • Difficulty finding a place to live
  • Trouble landing a new job
  • Loss of professional licensing
  • Loss of gun ownership rights
  • Immigration issues
  • Difficulty obtaining student loans

Do you need a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer to help you fight to try to avoid the consequences of a felony drunk driving conviction? Then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Rodriguez Law Group. Our team has the experience and skill necessary to handle your case.

How the Rodriguez Law Group Can Help You Fight Back Against Your Felony DUI Charge

The Rodriguez Law Group has a long history of helping the residents of Los Angeles fight back against their drunk driving charges. If you ask us to stand up and defend you, our criminal defense lawyers will:

Protect Your Constitutional Rights

As a citizen or resident of the United States, you are granted certain protections by the Constitution. When investigating you on suspicion of drunk driving, the state of California and its representatives must not infringe upon those rights. Unfortunately, they sometimes do.

Having practiced criminal defense law for many years, our attorneys are experts at spotting constitutional rights violations as they occur. If we spot a police officer or prosecutor trying to infringe upon your rights, we will intervene immediately.

Devise an Effective Defense Strategy

Quite often, the best way to prevent a DUI charge from turning into a conviction is with the assistance of an effective defense strategy.

During their long and illustrious legal careers, the attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group have seen and used a wide variety of drunk driving defenses. As such, we know which tactics work – and which ones do not. When you hire us, we will use our knowledge to devise a strategy that we believe will be effective for you.

Negotiate a Plea Bargain with the Prosecution

Shortly after you are taken into police custody, the state prosecutor may reach out to offer you a plea bargain. When doing so, they may tell you that the proposal is non-negotiable – but this is seldom the case. Almost all deals have at least a little room for maneuver.

Over the years, our lawyers have negotiated a myriad of plea bargain deals with prosecutors in Los Angeles. As such, we know what they need to see and hear before they will offer more lenient terms. When you hire us, we will work night and day to try to secure a fair deal for you.

Argue on Your Behalf in Court

If the prosecuting attorney is not interested in negotiating a plea deal, your case is all but certain to end up in court. There, a judge and jury of your peers will determine your fate.

Having represented countless clients at trial during their careers, our attorneys know how to argue a case clearly and convincingly. When you enlist our services, we use our argumentative skills to ensure that you receive a fair hearing in court.

Are you ready to fight back against the state’s accusations with the help of a team of lawyers that knows how to win cases like yours? If so, please pick up the phone and contact the Rodriguez Law Group as soon as possible. We are always ready, willing, and able to assist our friends and neighbors in Los Angeles.

Charged with a Felony DUI in California? Contact Our Law Firm Today

When the residents of Los Angeles need someone to defend them against their felony drunk driving charges, they know they can rely on the Rodriguez Law Group. Our attorneys have the legal industry experience and statutory knowledge necessary to handle any case – no matter how complex it may be. To learn more about how we can stand up for you in your time of need, all you have to do is give us a call or contact us online.