Driving under the influence is a serious offense in California. In certain circumstances, it can escalate to a felony charge.
Understanding the conditions under which DUI becomes a felony is important for anyone facing drunk driving charges in the state.
Multiple DUI offenses
A DUI can result in felony charges when someone has prior convictions for DUI offenses. Repeat DUI offenses within a specified timeframe can lead to harsher penalties, including felony charges. The number of prior DUI convictions and the time interval between offenses influence whether a current DUI is a felony.
Injuries or fatalities
Another circumstance that can elevate DUI to a felony is when intoxicated driving results in injury or death to another person. If a DUI-related accident causes bodily harm or fatalities, the driver responsible may face felony charges. The severity of the injuries, the number of individuals affected and other factors determine the degree of the felony charge. Such factors also impact associated penalties.
Prior felony DUI convictions
Those with prior felony DUI convictions may face felony charges for subsequent DUI offenses. This is true even if there are no injuries or fatalities involved. Repeat felony DUI offenders often face enhanced penalties, including longer prison sentences, higher fines and the possibility of extended license suspension or revocation.
Motorists should be aware of these factors to avoid potential legal consequences and prioritize safety on the roads. By understanding when DUI can become a felony, individuals can make informed decisions and take proactive measures to prevent impaired driving incidents.