California sometimes prosecutes driving under the influence (DUI) as a felony. When did DUI charges become felonies in California? The state has treated some DUIs as felonies since the 1930s. However, many DUIs are still considered misdemeanor offenses.
You can check out this article to learn more about the history of DUI charges in California. You should also focus on the difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI charges. We’ll even cover some methods to handle DUI accusations in Los Angeles.
The Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Act of 1935
There have been regulations on driving under the influence nearly since the invention of motor vehicles. California notably had DUI laws on the books as early as 1911. These regulations stated that no intoxicated person should operate a vehicle.
However, modern regulations for DUIs didn’t really develop until the 1930s, with the Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Act of 1935. This series of legal codes provided information about many traffic violations, including DUIs. It focused on both:
- Misdemeanor drunk driving
- Felony drunk driving
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), felony drunk driving had a specific definition in the Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Act of 1935. Drivers only faced felony drunk driving charges if they consumed alcohol before driving and injured someone else.
Current Felony DUI Charges in California
The state of California still uses felony charges to prosecute some DUI offenses. However, the majority of DUIs are treated as misdemeanors. Drivers generally only face felony charges if they:
- Have three previous misdemeanor DUI convictions within 10 years
- Have one previous felony DUI conviction within 10 years
- Hurt or killed someone in a DUI accident
Additionally, some of the above offenses are considered “wobblers.” Prosecutors may treat wobblers as either misdemeanors or felonies. However, in many situations the above charges are considered felonies. You may want to get help handling DUI felony charges today by contacting a lawyer in Los Angeles. Get started by calling (310) 862-0199.
Results of a Felony DUI Conviction in Los Angeles
You may wonder about how the court handles felony DUI charges in Los Angeles. There are a number of serious repercussions if you are convicted of a felony DUI. You may face:
- High court fines
- Years of time in prison
- Restrictions on your driver’s license
- Time in a DUI education program
Additionally, a felony conviction means you are considered a felon in California. This means that you may not, for example, be able to own or purchase firearms. DUIs are also priorable in the state of California. This means they remain on your driving record for 10 years. If you face additional DUI charges, the penalties are more serious.
Some felony DUI convictions even count as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law. A strike may count against you if you are accused of another felony in the future. It could double the amount of time you spend in prison. A third strike could even result in life in prison. Make sure you take all felony charges for a DUI very seriously.
Defenses for Felony DUIs in California
A DUI lawyer can step in to help if you are accused of a felony in California. A lawyer can start working on your defense right away. Your lawyer might be able to help you with legal interviews and work to block evidence against you. They may even move to get your charges dismissed in some cases.
In some situations, a DUI lawyer may focus on getting your charges reduced to a misdemeanor. This could reduce the penalties you’d face if convicted. Your lawyer can work to get previous strikes temporarily struck from your record if you’re facing felony charges.
Depending upon your situation, a lawyer may work to show that you were not actually impaired at the time of your arrest. A lawyer may take steps to show that a police officer stopped you without reasonable cause. You can get help preparing for court from a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles. Note that prosecutors are less likely to offer plea bargains for felony charges, but a lawyer may explore this option as well.
Get Help with a Felony DUI Charge from a Lawyer
When did DUIs become a felony in California? Felony charges have been used for some DUIs since 1935. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer may be able to help you handle these accusations. You can start working with a lawyer right now. Just call (310) 862-0199. You can also choose to complete our online contact form to get help on your side.
We will review your situation with a FREE consultation today.