Only 3 Ways for a DUI to be a Felony
DUI is generally a misdemeanor offense throughout the state of California, including Ventura County. Your BAC has no impact on whether or not the case is a felony. There are only three things that can make a DUI a felony:
- An accident causing great bodily injury to somebody else;
- 4 or more DUIs within a 10 year period;
- A prior felony DUI conviction.
If your case does not involve any of these 3 circumstances, then it is a misdemeanor. If it does, then you may be faced with felony DUI charges, for which the punishment is much harsher in terms of jail time and license suspension. There are additional life altering consequences with a felony DUI conviction, including possible employment issues.
Accident Causing Great Bodily Injury
In accident DUI cases that injure another person, you will be charged with a felony if the injuries are severe. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises will not make a DUI a felony, but may potentially result in misdemeanor DUI with injury charges. Only those cases that involve serious injury or death will result in felony DUI charges, and there is some debate as to what counts as a serious bodily injury. It must also be proven that you were at fault in the accident in order for the DUI to be a felony under this section. In notoriously strict Ventura County, many cases that under the law should be misdemeanors are initially charged as felonies.
4 or more DUI Convictions
If you have 3 DUI convictions, then any subsequent DUI within 10 years of the first will be prosecuted as a felony. The prior DUIs include convictions for alcohol related reckless driving, known as a Wet Reckless, as well as DUI convictions from out of state. Many of these cases also involve probation violations and driving on a suspended license charges. Treatment for alcohol addiction is one of the ways to minimize jail time in these multiple-offense DUI cases, if you can find a judge and prosecutor to support it.
Prior Felony DUI Conviction
If you have a previous felony DUI conviction, then any subsequent DUI within 10 years will be charged as a felony. This is true even if the current offense does not involve an accident and you have a low BAC.
Felony DUI Punishment – Possible Prison Time
The punishment in a felony Ventura DUI case depends on a number of factors. In accident DUI cases, these include the severity of the injuries and number of victims, the nature and cause of the accident, as well as the background of the defendant. Prison time is possible, and becomes increasingly more so if the injuries are especially tragic. In multiple-offense DUI cases, the age and nature of the prior DUIs are important factors, along with the nature of the current case, and prison time is also possible.
In addition to jail time, felony DUI cases also may involve significant fines and fees, strictly monitored felony probation, lengthy mandatory alcohol classes, mandatory rehabilitation or treatment programs, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, and license suspension or revocation.
Ventura DUI Attorney Jasen Nielsen
As a former Ventura DUI Prosecutor, I know how your felony DUI will be prosecuted and what factors will be used in the penalties that are sought. As an experienced defense attorney, I have an established track record of achieving excellent results in felony DUI cases. I also have good relationships with the judges and prosecutors, and know what can be done to mitigate those cases that cannot be won. If you have been arrested for a felony DUI in Ventura County, please call me today at (805)564-4DUI for a free consultation.