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What Is a Felony DUI in California?

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Charges For Driving Under the Influence in California

While driving while intoxicated (DUI), also known as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is always considered a serious offense in California. However, certain factors might impact whether prosecutors charge an alleged offender with a misdemeanor or felony DUI.


DUI is often charged as a misdemeanor. DUI convictions for misdemeanors can result in expensive fines, jail time, and license suspension.


However, a DUI might be charged as a felony when specific aggravating conditions are present. Unsurprisingly, a conviction for a felony DUI charge will result in more severe punishments than a conviction for a misdemeanor DUI charge.


That said, let's look at the specifics, as handled by our prescreened California DUI attorneys:


California DUI attorneys

What Qualifies As A Felony DUI?

California's Vehicle Code Section 23153 says that it is against the law to drive while high on drugs or alcohol. Under California's drunk driving law, the prosecution must prove that the driver's actions directly harmed another person.


In the following cases, prosecutors may accuse a suspect of felony DUI:

  • Due to the DUI, another individual was injured or killed

  • The accused has been convicted of three or more DUI or "Wet Reckless" offenses in the previous ten years

  • The alleged perpetrator has already been found guilty of felony DUI

An intoxicated driver may be charged with felony DUI if these facts are accurate. You need to talk to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who can explain the charges, build a strong case, give you legal options, and help you decide whether to negotiate a settlement or go to trial.

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Possible Penalties For Driving Under The Influence In California


The penalties handed down in DUIs highly depend on the facts of the case. A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can avoid or reduce the penalties using evidence to back up the defense.


In California, felony DUI (without causing injuries) penalties frequently include:

  • 3 years maximum in prison or jail

  • Thousands of dollars in fines and fees

  • up to four years' mandatory suspension of one's driver's license

  • 30-month DUI education

  • Restitution (to possible victims)

If you're not sure about the specific vital details of your case, contact a Los Angeles DUI lawyer ASAP. A lawyer will know their way around the law and help you with crucial aspects of a DUI, such as the investigation, paperwork, settlements, case-building, etc.


What About First-Time DUI Charges?

Under California drunk driving laws, first-time offenders might be handled differently. For first-time DUIs, the penalties could include the following:

  • Up to 3 years in state jail (1 year is added for each victim)

  • The prosecution might add an additional 3 years if the injury was deemed to have caused a "Great Bodily Injury" (GBI).

According to California's Three Strikes Law, the DUI plus GBI would constitute a "Strike." Here are possible penalties for such:

  • Fees and fines

  • Compensation for the injured party

  • Up to five years' suspension of a driver's license

  • 30-month DUI education

Why Do You Need A DUI Lawyer In Los Angeles?

Prescreened California DUI attorneys are experienced in how California drunk driving laws work. They will be able to represent you through the crucial process of a DUI.

This representation is even more important in felony DUI cases. A lawyer can help you keep the evidence safe and build a strong case for better results.


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Hire A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near You


Do you need a Los Angeles criminal lawyer? 1000Attorneys can refer you to a prescreened California lawyer that can best handle your unique claim.

Contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.

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