Have you, or someone you love, been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles? Is the district attorney considering filing charges for a felony DUI against you? If so, do not hesitate to contact The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Los Angeles your life will be changed forever. In addition to losing your license, you will be sentenced to time behind bars and be required to pay steep fines and restitution. You can limit these (and other) negative consequences of your arrest by hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to defend you. Call The Rodriguez Law Group to learn more about how we can help you fight the felony DUI charges you face.
- 1 When Is a DUI a Felony?
- 2 Consequences of a Felony DUI in Los Angeles
- 3 Fighting Felony DUI Charges in Los Angeles
- 4 Los Angeles Felony DUI Defense Attorney
When Is a DUI a Felony?
In California, a DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. A DUI will generally be charged as a misdemeanor if it is the first offense and if no one was injured because of your behavior. A DUI will be charged as a felony under Vehicle Code Section 23153 if:
- You cause another person’s death or serious injury while you were driving under the influence;
- Within the past 10 years, you have three or more convictions for wet reckless or DUI offenses; or
- You have already been convicted of a felony DUI in the past.
DUI Causing Death or Serious Injury
When you are charged with felony DUI for causing death or serious injury, the prosecution must be able to prove that you drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that this behavior caused bodily injury to another person. You will be considered to have been “under the influence” if your “mental and/or physical abilities are so impaired that [you are] no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person using ordinary care.”
This does not mean that any amount of alcohol in your system will necessarily lead to felony DUI charges. In order for to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must prove that your ability to drive was compromised by the amount of alcohol you had. This is generally done by looking at your blood alcohol level (BAC) at the time of the accident. When your BAC is .08 or greater you will be considered to have been “under the influence.” When your BAC is between .05 and .08 the prosecution may have to provide additional evidence to support the argument that you were intoxicated.
Prior DUI, Wet Reckless, or Felony DUI Convictions
If you have prior convictions for DUI, felony DUI, or wet reckless, the current DUI charges you face may be aggravated to a felony. However, the prosecution will have to prove that you were convicted of each of the prior DUI or wet reckless charges. If the prosecution is asserting that you have a prior felony DUI conviction, and should therefore face felony charges in the current situation, they must prove that your prior conviction was, in fact, a felony. In some situations, you can have the charges against you reduced if you complete certain rehabilitative or probationary programs. If you have a prior felony DUI reduced to a misdemeanor, that initial felony cannot be used as evidence of a felony conviction in your current case.
Here’s an example. Jim was arrested for a DUI in 2012 and charged with a felony. The prosecution said that if he pleaded guilty to the felony offense, but completed a term of probation and counseling, the charges would ultimately be reduced to a misdemeanor. Jim successfully completed the probationary programs, and the felony DUI was reduced to a misdemeanor. As a result, his criminal record only reflected a misdemeanor DUI offense. If Jim were arrested for a DUI today, the prosecution would not be able to use his prior felony DUI conviction against him. This is because it was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
Consequences of a Felony DUI in Los Angeles
What happens when you are convicted of a felony DUI in Los Angeles? What criminal penalties can be imposed in a felony DUI case? The answer to these questions will depend on why you are being charged with a felony DUI.
Causing Bodily Harm or Death: A conviction for felony DUI causing serious injury or death is punishable by:
- 16 months to 16 years in prison;
- $5,000 in fines;
- Restitution to your victim(s);
- Suspension of your California driver’s license for up to 5 years; and/or
- Compulsory DUI school for up to 30 months.
Prior DUI Convictions: A conviction for felony DUI based on prior DUI convictions is punishable by:
- 16 months to 3 years in prison;
- $1,000 in fines;
- Suspension of your California driver’s license for up to 4 years; and/or
- Compulsory DUI school for up to 30 months.
In addition to facing criminal penalties for your felony DUI conviction, you will also encounter difficulties in your everyday life. Collateral consequences are social and civil sanctions that exist simply because you have a criminal record. These collateral consequences can make it incredibly difficult to live and work in society after you have completed your criminal punishment. Consequences of a felony DUI may include:
- Inability to work in certain fields, including healthcare, education, and the government;
- Difficulty securing work in positions that require driving or operating heavy machinery;
- Inability to travel because of the loss of your license, placing additional stress on your relationships;
- Inability to participate in California state welfare programs;
- Difficulty renting or buying a home; and/or
- Changes to child custody and/or visitation rights.
Fighting Felony DUI Charges in Los Angeles
Just because you have been arrested and/or charged with a crime does not mean that you will automatically be convicted. You have the right to assert any defense that can help to explain, excuse, or justify your alleged behavior. When these defenses are persuasive the prosecution will have a difficult time proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Defenses that may be helpful in a Los Angeles felony DUI case include:
- You were not under the influence at the time of the accident or arrest;
- No one was killed or seriously injured;
- You have no prior convictions for DUI, wet reckless, or Felony DUI;
- Police did not perform the field sobriety tests correctly;
- The police department’s breathalyzer equipment was not calibrated correctly;
- The chain of custody for your biological specimens was broken; or
- You have been falsely accused.
Los Angeles Felony DUI Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges for felony DUI in Los Angeles do not hesitate to contact the Rodriguez Law Group for help. Our experienced felony DUI attorneys understand that your future is at stake. We will do everything in our power to minimize the consequences of your arrest. We will intervene in your criminal case as soon as we are hired, and fight to secure a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.
Call our Los Angeles felony DUI attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your legal rights, and answer any questions you have.