What Is a Felony DUI in California?

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?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in California under Vehicle Code Section 23153. Under California 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 must consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who can explain the charges, build a solid case, offer legal alternatives, and help you decide whether to negotiate a settlement or go to trial.


los angeles criminal defense lawyer

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:

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