While a DUI in California is usually charged as a misdemeanor, there are ways in which it can become a felony. The primary way a DUI becomes a felony is when the driver charged as three or more DUI convictions in California or in other states.
Even though it usually takes three or more DUI convictions for a DUI to be charged as a felony, depending on the circumstances, a DUI can be upgraded to a felony charge at any time. Furthermore, a fourth DUI does not always guarantee that the charge will be upgraded to a felony, but it usually does.
A determining factor a DUI being upgraded to a felony is related to harm and damage. If another person was killed in a DUI-related crash, then a DUI may be upgraded to a felony, especially if its the fourth occurrence.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports that a man was killed, and a suspected DUI driver critically injured in a Highway 154 crash.
The crash occurred on Friday evening along Highway 154 at the San Marcos Pass summit.
61-year-old Oscar Pereyra was driving a Toyota pickup truck eastbound when he crossed the double yellow line. He slammed into a Hyundai Sonata driven by 31-year-old Michael Kai Liu.
Liu was declared dead at the scene. Pereyra had to be extricated from his vehicle and was rushed to a local hospital with critical injuries. He was also later arrested on suspicion of felony DUI. His blood-alcohol level has not been released to the public.
The collision is still under investigation.