Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal act in California. However, a DUI is not always an automatic felony. In fact, many DUI cases in Los Angeles are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Felony charges are only used in specific situations.
Both misdemeanor and felony convictions can result in fines, incarceration, and restrictions on your driving privileges. Facing a DUI alone can lead to the maximum penalties possible, which is why it’s important to have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side.
DUIs Aren’t Automatic Felonies in California
Most DUI charges in California are treated as misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies and generally lead to jail time instead of a prison sentence.
However, there are times when the court will use felony charges for a DUI. Drivers can end up facing felony DUI charges due to:
- Past misdemeanor convictions
- A past felony conviction
- Injuries or deaths associated with a DUI accident
You can learn more about the possibility of felony charges for your case by contacting a Los Angeles DUI attorney for help. You can discuss how these factors impact by calling us today at (310) 862-0199.
Felony Charges and Previous Misdemeanor DUI Convictions
DUIs in the state of California are priorable. This means that a past conviction will count against you if you face subsequent DUI charges. Generally, a past DUI conviction will count against you for 10 years from the time of your initial arrest, not your conviction.
The penalties for a DUI conviction grow more serious with each subsequent offense. Drivers who have three prior misdemeanor convictions can automatically face felony charges in Los Angeles. All three past DUIs must have occurred within 10 years for a charge to be upgraded to a felony.
Past Felony Convictions and DUIs
Three past misdemeanor DUI convictions can lead to a felony charge. Drivers also face felony DUI charges if they have a single previous felony DUI on their record. This holds true even if they would not “normally” face a felony charge.
Felony Charges for DUIs with Injury Accidents
Drivers can also face felony accusations if they drive under the influence and cause an accident that results in an injury or a death
Note that driving under the influence does not necessarily mean that you would be responsible for an accident. Sometimes other drivers take direct actions that end up causing a collision, even if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs. You would avoid a felony charge if a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles shows that someone else was at-fault for the collision.
There are several different charges used to prosecute DUIs causing injuries or death in California. You could even face charges for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you are accused of causing an accident while impaired. Sometimes, prosecutors use charges for DUI second-degree murder.
Results of a Felony DUI Conviction in Los Angeles
Felony DUI charges are handled very seriously here in Los Angeles. Drivers convicted of a felony for driving under the influence can face:
- Prison time
- Restrictions on their driver’s license
- Time in DUI school
You can face years of time in prison for a felony DUI conviction and thousands of dollars in fines. In some cases, the court will allow you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) after a felony conviction. This allows you to continue operating a vehicle after you are convicted.
However, in some cases, the court will order your license to be suspended for several years.
Handle Felony Charges in Los Angeles with a Lawyer
You do not have to try to handle a felony DUI charge on your own. A DUI attorney in Los Angeles can take steps to help you build a defense quickly. A lawyer can work to get your charges reduced or even dismissed in some cases.
If not settled earlier, your lawyer will defend you in court. A lawyer can work on showing that you were not impaired or that you were stopped by the police without due cause.
Speak with a Lawyer Today if You’re Concerned About Your DUI Charges
DUIs are not always automatic felonies in California, but all DUIs have serious consequences if you are convicted. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer can help with both misdemeanor and felony charges. Start building your defense by calling us at (310) 862-0199 or filling out our online contact form for a free case evaluation.