In California, a DUI can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. Some DUI’s are almost always felonies.
California reserves the right to charge DUIs as felonies. Felony crimes are more serious than misdemeanor crimes. They carry tougher sentences, and they brand you with a felon status that follows you for life. Being labeled a felon can affect your career and your basic rights.
Any DUI can be charged as a felony depending on the circumstances, even a first time DUI. There are three main circumstances where this happens:
- Your DUI caused a serious injury or the death of another person.
- It is your fourth DUI conviction in a 10-year period. For these purposes, wet reckless convictions count as prior DUI’s.
- You have one or more prior DUI felony convictions on your record (ever).
The prosecutor has some discretion in how they charge you. For a fourth DUI or a DUI causing injury or death, they can technically choose to charge it as a misdemeanor, a lesser crime—but this is rare. But a good DUI lawyer may be able to pressure them to reduce it to the lesser charge, substantially improving your outcome.
The consequences of felony DUI include:
- 16 months in state prison, or two years or longer if someone was hurt.
- Losing your right to vote while in prison.
- Losing your right to bear arms for life.
- All the normal consequences of a DUI including fines and fees, license suspension and mandatory DUI traffic school.
You can learn more about felony DUIs here: When Is a DUI a Felony in California?
A felony DUI is very serious. Don’t face this kind of charge alone. Let us connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.