Most DUI charges in the state of California are classified as misdemeanors. This is the case most of the time even if you have previous misdemeanor DUI convictions on your criminal record. The caveat concerns what are known as “aggravating factors.” The purpose of this article is to explain the types of aggravating factors capable of justifying a felony DUI charge. If you have been charged with felony DUI in California, you need to contact an experienced California DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties for a felony DUI conviction are severe. With your future, finances, freedom, and reputation at stake, you need a skilled attorney.
Aggravating Factor #1: Causing Injury or Death While Under the Influence
The first aggravating factor serving as grounds for a felony DUI charge in California is causing injuries or fatalities to another person while driving under the influence of alcohol. The number one concern of California’s driving-related laws, including those pertaining to drinking and driving, is the health and safety of the state’s drivers and pedestrians. In the eyes of the state, then, injuries or fatalities that result from a conscious decision to drink and get behind represent the most flagrant violation of California’s driving laws.
Aggravating Factor #2: Prior Convictions
A second thing the state of California has little tolerance for is repeat offenses. The purpose of the many penalties issued for conviction of a first time DUI is not to enrich the state’s coffers; rather, it is to educate you and deter you from committing the same offense a second time. So, whether you have one or more prior misdemeanor DUI convictions on your record, or one felony DUI conviction on your record, you are looking at a felony DUI charge. It should be noted that a so-called “wet reckless” counts as a prior just the same as misdemeanor DUI.
Aggravating Factor #3: Fleeing the Scene
Third on California’s list of aggravating factors is attempting flee the scene of a DUI-related accident in which other persons were injured. This is called a hit and run. Even if the incident would have otherwise been a first time offense, the fleeing the scene aspect justifies prosecuting the crime as a felony.
What to Do You if You Have Been Charged With Felony DUI in California
If you are convicted of felony DUI in California, you are looking substantial prison sentence, hefty fine, loss of driving privileges for a long time, and, of course, severe damage to your reputation. All this is just what you are looking at in the criminal justice system. On the civil side, you can expect to be sued for damages by anyone injured in a DUI-related accident, or the survivors of any victims of vehicular manslaughter. To protect your legal rights, your future, and your very freedom, you need the skill of an experienced California DUI defense attorney. A skilled attorney will mount the strongest possible defense against the state of California’s efforts to convict you.