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What Factors Make a DUI Charge a Felony?

A DUI is a serious offense that, upon conviction, can significantly impact a person’s life and livelihood. California law includes a wide range of DUI penalties that can vary based on several factors. While a first DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, a driver can possibly face felony charges depending on the circumstances of the case.

In California, drivers are prohibited from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. For truck drivers, there is a .04 percent BAC limit, and drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI if their BAC is .01 percent or more. Under California’s implied consent law, any driver arrested for a DUI is required to submit to a BAC test.

A DUI charge can result in felony charges if aggravating factors exist. These include:

  • Causing serious injury to another person — If someone behind the wheel is in an accident while driving under the influence and causes harm to another, a DUI can be charged as a felony.
  • Having three or more DUI convictions — A driver may face felony charges if they had three or more prior DUI convictions within a 10-year period.
  • Being convicted of a prior felony DUI — Even one prior DUI felony conviction can result in any subsequent DUI being charged as a felony.
  • Causing the fatality of another — If the DUI involved an accident that caused a fatality, the driver may be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which is a felony.

The penalties for a DUI felony can be severe. In addition to license suspension, substantial monetary fines and mandatory substance abuse treatment, a driver who is convicted of a felony DUI can also face imprisonment. In the event they caused injury or fatality, they may also be required to pay restitution to the victim or their family.

It’s unlikely that a DUI felony charge will be dismissed. However, in some cases, it is possible to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor. When a serious charge like this is involved, it’s best to have the guidance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who will challenge the prosecution’s case and fight for your freedom.

With more than 20 years of combined experience, Strategic Law Command is committed to providing high-quality legal services for clients who are facing felony DUI charges. With an office located in Roseville, we serve clients throughout the Greater Sacramento area. Call (916) 787-1234 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.