Driving under the influence (DUI) is often a misdemeanor in California. Are DUI charges ever “wobblers”? In some cases, DUIs are prosecuted as wobblers. This means you could face misdemeanor or felony charges for a DUI.
Review possible “wobbler” DUIs in this article. Learn more about how DUIs are prosecuted. Consider the penalties for a misdemeanor conviction and those for a felony conviction. You will also get information about defenses for any kind of DUI charge.
Not All DUIs Are Wobblers in California
It’s important that you understand that not all DUIs are 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 previous 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 are always 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 are always 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 is generally 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. A Penal Code Section 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 be charged under:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23153: DUI Causing Injury
- California Penal Code 192(b): Vehicular Manslaughter
These charges are 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 in a reckless or dangerous way 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 are 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. 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.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn if a 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 were charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Start getting help on your side right now with a free consultation. A law firm can begin constructing a strong defense for you quickly.
Get legal support by calling (310) 862-0199. You can also complete our online contact form and we will respond to your case as soon as possible.