Being charged with a felony is a very serious matter that can result in the loss of rights, high penalties, and long prison sentences. In the state of California, there are a number of ways that a DUI can go from a misdemeanor to a felony. A DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor, however, after you are cited for the fourth time, your DUI will be charged with a felony. Upon your fourth strike, it is crucial to speak with an attorney before you are convicted as a felon. A felon is essentially a second-class citizen that must follow a different code of conduct so to maintain the right to live amongst others. Upon being convicted as a felon you may experience different life complications that arise from housing and employment discrimination.
Another way a DUI misdemeanor can turn into a felony is if your negligence caused a traffic accident that has caused great bodily injuries and/or severe damage to property. In addition, if you are cited three times for driving under the influence causing bodily injury, your third charge will count as a felony.
Driving under the influence holds severe punishments that aim to deter anyone driver from committing a traffic violation while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. When a person is driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the person is mechanically impaired and are more likely to cause an accident. The accidents that result from a careless impaired driver have devastating results that affect more than just the driver. Drinking and driving affect more than just yourself and the damages that a DUI may cause to a family are incalculable. If you are drinking heavily one night, it is best to contact a family member or another means of transportation before you consider getting behind the wheel.
If you are charged with a felony, you may lose some of your rights and you will be obligated to pay repartitions. Reparations are paid to families for the damages that your DUI has caused. DUI felonies are not as common as one may think, but they do happen and if you are charged with a felony, you will want to speak with a local DUI attorney.
DUI accidents just like all other highway accidents occur for a variety of reasons. If you are charged with a DUI, no matter if it is your first or your third, it is always good to contest the charges in a court of law. Due to the various factors that can come into play in a car accident, it is important to conduct a separate investigation so that you may be able to prove that the accident was not solely your fault.
If you are charged with a felony, it crucial to speak with a local DUI attorney. To speak with a law professional you may want to contact the Long Beach DUI Attorney at 562-206-2012. Upon request, we will conduct a separate investigation of the incident so that we can back your case in a courtroom with evidence that a police investigation might have overlooked.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is a crime that is reflected on your criminal record for ten years. In most cases, first-time offenders will be charged with a misdemeanor for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, there are times when a DUI can be charged as a felony. DUI felonies hold much higher consequences than those described for a DUI misdemeanor.
California Vehicle Code 23152: DUI
First and foremost it is crucial to understand what constitutes as a DUI in order to effectively fight the case in a courtroom. According to California Vehicle Code 23152, it is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any drug or alcohol. VC 23152 describes the following as an offense that can be charged with a DUI:
- VC 23152 (a): this subsection explains that it is illegal for a person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage. Any alcoholic beverage has the ability to impair your driving ability.
- VC 23152 (b): this subsection explains that it is illegal for any person to operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher.
- VC 23152 (c): it is unlawful for a drug addict to operate a vehicle.
- VC 23152 (d): it is unlawful to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 percent or more.
- VC 23152 (e) it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while a passenger for hire inside a motor vehicle such as a boat or automobile. This law will come into effect on July 1st, 2018.
- VC 23152 (f): it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug.
- VC 23152 (g): it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug and while under the influence of alcohol.
To learn the specific language of VC 23152, you may visit the following government page:
In violation of any of the subsections described in VC 23152, the driver or motor vehicle operator may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A DUI misdemeanor can be charged with a felony for a number of reasons. The following will highlight scenarios in which a DUI can be charged as a felony.
- DUI causing bodily injuries: If a driver causes harm to a passenger or bystander while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver can be charged with a felony. The prosecuting party will need to prove that the driver was at fault for the DUI related injury.
- A high blood alcohol concentration (BAC): If a driver is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent, the individual is considered to be intoxicated. Driving with a (BAC) .08 percent is in most cases treated as a DUI misdemeanor. However, in some states, if you are driving with a greater (BAC) of .08 percent the state can charge the violation with a felony. At the very least, driving with a high BAC will constitute additional penalties, fines, and restrictions.
- A history of DUI offenses: In most states, if your DUI has occurred within the past ten years, it will remain on your record and will incentives more punishments for those who commit a subsequent offense. For example, in the state of New York, if you have committed a second offense DUI, you may be charged with a felony DUI. In the state of California, upon receiving a fourth DUI, the judge may charge a felony DUI.
- Driving with a suspended license: If your license has been revoked, suspended or restricted as a result of a prior DUI, any future DUI offense can be charged with additional penalties. When a license is suspended or restricted it means that you cannot drive on the highway under any circumstances. If you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and while your license is suspended, the case may be treated with a felony.
- Underage passengers while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol: If a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in the presence of children or underage individuals, the driver may be charged with a DUI felony.
California Felony DUI
In the state of California, if a driver violates VC 23152 for the FIRST time, he or she may only be charged with a felony if he or she was driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, he or she violated a traffic law, he or she injures a third-party, and if the actions were the cause of the accident. If the prosecuting party cannot prove the above, then a first-time offense will usually be treated as a misdemeanor.
In California, a DUI is a priorable offense meaning that any subsequent DUI’s that occur within a ten-year span will build off of the prior offense. In other words, every subsequent DUI offense after a first DUI offense will typically hold more severe punishments and fines. Upon reaching a fourth DUI, the driver will most likely be charged with a DUI felony. If you are entering a courtroom for a DUI offense for the fourth time, it is crucial to contact a DUI attorney who is capable of fighting on your side. Entering a courtroom without legal representation can result in an unjust verdict for lack of knowledge of current laws. A local attorney will be capable of fighting the charge and may be capable of dropping the charges.
Fourth time DUI offenders will be charged with a felony and if convicted they will be acknowledged as felons. In the state of California, if you are a felon, you will most likely lose some of your civil rights.
First, Second, Third, Felony
First DUI offense can result in up to six months in jail, license suspension, DUI school, ignition interlock device (IED) program, DUI probation program.
A second DUI offense will warrant up to one year in jail, license suspension for up to two years, mandatory IED program, up to thirty months of DUI school, and up to four-thousand dollars in fines.
Third DUI offense can result in up to 16 months in prison, up to 30 months of DUI school, mandatory IED program, a three-year license suspension, and fees that can range up to $18,000.
Fourth DUI offense, on your fourth offense you will hold the status of a felon, face license suspension up to four years and a possible lifetime driving suspension, DUI probation for up to five years, and prison time.
To learn more about the ways that we challenge a DUI misdemeanor, you may visit https://www.duilawyerlongbeach.com/dui-steps/first-time-dui
The outcome of each DUI offense will highly depend on the circumstances of each case. For instance, if Jack’s DUI incident causes severe bodily injuries to multiple people or if his accident resulted in deaths, Jack may be charged with a felony even if it was his first offense.
Refusing to take Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test
California drivers should know that the breathalyzer test upon being stopped on the highway, is optional. This means that you are not required by law to submit to a breath test while stopped on the highway. However, if you refuse to take a breath test or any other field sobriety test, the police officer may proceed with an arrest if they believe that you are trying to hide something. Once a police officer establishes probable cause the police officer may proceed with an arrest. After you are arrested, you will be transported to a police station where you will be obligated by law to fulfill a blood, urine, or breath test.
If you refuse to submit to a chemical test upon being arrested, the police officer may place additional charges on your DUI felony or misdemeanor case.
Felony DUI Consequences
A felony DUI like other DUI offenses will result in prison time, license suspension (maybe permanent license suspension), Ignition interlock device program, and counseling programs. The penalties and the actual harm do no become apparent until one understands what it means to be a felon. If you are a felon, you will not be able to vote, own or purchase a weapon, you may face job and housing discrimination, and other freedoms may be taken away such as the right to travel abroad.
Once your criminal record reflects a felony, the whole world is a different place and you will find many obstacles that will complicate life. If you are charged with a DUI felony, there are a number of things that our lawyers can do to help reduce the fines and penalties. Our lawyers can review your case and help you find the appropriate way to combat your case.
If you wish to learn more about specific cases that resulted in a DUI felony charge, you may visit our blog at https://www.duilawyerlongbeach.com/blog/180-dui-resulting-in-death
However, you must keep in mind that you will face harsh charges if 1) you were the cause of the accident, 2) you were driving with a BAC of .16% or higher, 3) children were present, 4) if your accident has caused severe bodily injury, death or great damage to property. If any of the above are true to your case, you will need an experienced DUI attorney. An experienced DUI attorney will conduct a separate investigation of your case to have a better understanding of the incident and how it may be challenged in a courtroom. If you wish to have your case reviewed by a law professional, you are encouraged to contact the Long Beach DUI Attorney at 562-206-2012.