Driving under the influence (DUI) is often a misdemeanor in California. But are DUI charges ever “wobblers?” Unfortunately, in some cases, DUIs get prosecuted as wobblers. This means you could face misdemeanor or felony charges for a DUI.
Consider the penalties for a misdemeanor conviction and those for a felony conviction. If you have a wobbler DUI case, you don’t want to end up with felony charges. Learn from our DUI lawyers how DUI wobblers work and what your options are when facing them.
A wobbler is a crime that can either get charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. This is the reason why they’re referred to generally as a wobbler because they can wobble between both classifications.
Technically, virtually any crime (save for the extremely heinous ones) can be a wobbler. It all depends on several different aspects of the case. Most judges examine the severity of the crime, the defendant’s overall history, and whether this was a repeat offense. Based on these criteria, DUIs can sometimes be a wobbler in California.
Other General Factors for Wobbler Cases
Most wobblers get decided based on these additional factors:
- The age of the defendant
- The strength of the prosecution’s case
- The criminal record of the defendant
- The chances of a repeat crime occurring
- Whether or not the defendant is eligible for probation
- How much the defendant cooperated with law enforcement
Wobbler cases often get evaluated on these criteria. Even still, the final decision on wobbler cases is ultimately up to the prosecutor and the judge.
Not All DUIs Are Wobblers in California
It’s important that you understand that not all DUIs get classified as wobblers. The majority of DUI charges in California are misdemeanors. Drivers who have an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are almost always charged with a misdemeanor, unless:
- They have three previous misdemeanor DUIs on their record.
- They have one prior felony DUI on their record.
- They hurt or killed another individual in a DUI accident.
In these situations, drivers face wobbler charges. Additionally, some DUI cases always get charged as felonies. Drivers face felony charges in cases that involve a death in a DUI accident. Both gross vehicular manslaughter and second-degree murder always get prosecuted as felonies in California.
Wobblers Based on Prior DUI Convictions
Some drivers face wobbler charges because of their prior criminal record. The court generally treats a driver’s first three DUIs as misdemeanors. A fourth DUI generally gets prosecuted as a felony. However, this offense is technically a wobbler.
A lawyer can work to get your DUI charge dropped to a misdemeanor in this situation. In addition, California Penal Code (CPC) § 17(b) motion may help get your charges reduced. However, the court may refuse to reduce your charges if you have multiple prior DUI convictions.
Wobblers for DUIs Causing Injury or Death in California
You may also face wobbler charges if you were involved in a DUI accident. There are two primary charges used in this situation. You could get charged under:
- California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23153 – DUI causing injury
- CPC 192(b) – Vehicular manslaughter
These charges get prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies. The prosecution may consider your past criminal history when determining how to charge a wobbler. They may also consider the facts of your present case. This means they may focus on the severity of the injuries caused by the accident.
The prosecution may also consider your BAC at the time of the accident. If your BAC was very high, they will be more likely to seek felony charges. They also look at the causes of a DUI accident. They may work to find out if you were operating your vehicle recklessly or dangerously before the accident.
A DUI lawyer will focus on investigating your case. This could help your lawyer work on a strong defense for you. This applies regardless of whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in California.
Compare Misdemeanor and Felony Charges for a DUI
Wobblers can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. You could face different penalties for the same offense, depending on how you get charged. Let’s consider a “DUI with injury” charge as an example. Drivers charged with a misdemeanor DUI with injury could face:
- Up to one year of jail time
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to six months usage of an ignition interlock device (IID)
A felony conviction may result in:
- Up to 16 years of prison time
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to one year usage of an IID
Additionally, you may need to pay restitution to the injured party in either case. You may also need to attend DUI school. However, as you can see, a felony conviction results in harsher penalties. Make sure you’re ready to handle felony DUI charges by reaching out to a DUI lawyer.
A lawyer can work to get your felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor level. Your lawyer could help you secure a plea bargain after your arrest and might also work to defend you in court. Finally, a lawyer could work to show that you were not driving under the influence. Find out more about your options by speaking with a Los Angeles DUI attorney today.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me If My DUI Was a Wobbler?
If you know that your DUI is a wobbler, then you’ll need help from an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. A lawyer can help you get your charges filed as a misdemeanor by:
- Challenging test results
- Proving your rights were violated during your arrest
- Talking to witnesses and experts to get their testimony
- Negotiating for reduced penalties directly with the prosecution
- Representing you and your best interests both in and out of court
Legal terminology can be extremely confusing, especially in criminal cases. If you don’t have strong legal experience, you shouldn’t pass on hiring a lawyer. Retaining legal representation is the best way to avoid harsh penalties that can affect your life negatively for years.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn If Your DUI Is a Wobbler
A DUI may be a wobbler in some cases in California. However, not all DUIs are wobblers. A DUI lawyer could help if you face both misdemeanor or felony charges. Start getting help on your side right now with a free consultation.