Here, a Los Angeles DUI attorney explains when a DUI can be a felony. Whether or not a DUI is a felony depends on several factors. Top Los Angeles DUI attorney has years of experience defending DUIs in Los Angeles. Top Los Angele DUI attorneys’ experience ranges from defending first-offense DUI in Los Angeles to helping clients at DMV hearings to handling very serious felony DUI cases involving previous DUI offenses or a DUI that involves an injury to someone. If you are arrested for a felony DUI in Los Angeles, do not despair; often, DUI attorneys Los Angeles can find a defense for your case that will avoid a felony record or jail sentence.
TYPE OF FELONY DUI LOS ANGELES
To answer the question, “…is DUI a felony”, Los Angeles DUI attorney needs to know the facts of your case. A DUI can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of your case and depending on your criminal record. If you are arrested for a DUI without an accident and you have no more than 2 prior DUI cases in the past ten years, your DUI should be a misdemeanor. A DUI can become a felony when the driver arrested for a DUI has 3 or more prior DUI cases within the past ten years or when there is an accident and someone is hurt as a result of a drunk driving accident or when your previous DUI, within the past ten years, was a felony. Keep in mind that a 4th DUI is a wobbler, which means that, the prosecutor can reduce a felony DUI to a misdemeanor or a judge can reduce it to a misdemeanor. Some felony DUIs are more serious than others. For example, if you are arrested for a DUI after a car accident and someone died as a result of that collision, the DUI can be filed as second-degree murder or manslaughter. If as a result of the accident, someone is injured, but not dead, Los Angeles DA’s office can file a Los Angeles felony DUI charge. If the injury is severe, Los Angeles District Attorney can add what is known as GBI enhancements.
Here are 3 things to look for in a Felony DUI Los Angeles Case:
- A California Penal Code section 12022.7 is a Great Bodily Injury (GBI) enhancement that is often used to allege in felony DUI cases when an alleged victim suffered a serious injury. That injury cannot be trivial – usually involves a broken bone or stitches or some other serious type of injury. This is a very serious charge because the GBI allegation, which is what “Great Bodily Injury” under California Penal Code 12022.7 is abbreviated to, adds 3 years to the maximum jail sentence. This means that a maximum sentence of 3 years now becomes a maximum sentence of 6 years in the state prison. Also, GBI allegations make your Los Angeles Felony DUI offense a violent strike under the California Penal Code section 667.5. When the offense becomes a violent strike, it requires prison sentences to be served at 85%. A person who is sent to prison without GBI allegations will serve 50% of his jail sentence, but with a GBI allegation, much more. Also, a GBI allegation doubles any future crimes. In summary, a person convicted of a felony DUI with a GBI allegation can be sentenced to up to 6 years (instead of 3) and serve 85% of that (instead of 50%), and any future felony will double in punishment so that a future felony DUI will GBI injury can be sentenced up to 12 years max (instead of 6). A “strike” under the California three-strike laws has other consequences, including, in certain cases, life sentences. Los Angeles DUI attorney is experienced in handling even very serious DUI cases and can help you defend your case even when your case seems indefensible.
- If the injury is not severe, but there is still “hurt or harm” to the body, the charge of California Vehicle Code 23153 (DUI with injury) can be filed. The case law that allows it can be found in People v. Dakin (1988) 200 Cal. App. 3d 1028. Dankin cases siled People v. Lares (1968) 261 Cal. App. 2d 657 which is the only case that explains the term “bodily injury” for felony drunk driving cases in California. In Lares, the court simply said that “bodily injury means just what it says – harm or hurt to the body. The court indicated that it must be more than just being “shaking up” or “fright” or “minor headache”. In Lares, the court permitted a felony DUI charge where the victim had a “back strain”. Defense attorney in Dakin argued that an injury in CVC 23153 must mean “substantial injury”. The court disagreed stating that if in fact, the legislature wanted to limit prosecution for substantial injury only it would say that. In Dankin’s case, the injury that satisfied finding a defendant guilty of DUI with injury, in violation of CVC 23153 was “two cuts to forehead, a severe headache, and stiff neck“.
- A person who was arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, where multiple people were injured in an accident can be charged with a “multiple victims” DUI enhancement. Under California Vehicle Code section 23558, a person who caused injury to more than one person after a DUI in Los Angeles can and will most likely be charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney with several enhancements that will give an additional punishment of 1 year for each victim. For example, if you are involved in an accident where there were two people and each of them was injured, you can be charged with a felony DUI that carries up to 3 years in state prison and an additional 2 years for the second person. So the maximum prison sentence is increased to 5 years instead of 3.
Thus, to answer the question “Is DUI a felony”, DUI attorneys in Los Angeles need to know how many priors you have and if someone is injured or died because of a DUI-related collision.
A DUI with injury cases does not have to be a felony. California Vehicle Code section 23153 is a statute that is used to prosecute DUIs with injuries. Under this code section, jail time is mandatory. However, often, we are able to negotiate California Vehicle Code section 23153 to simple DUI, which does not require jail time if there are no priors alleged for the DUI.
Previous DUI cases that you have on your record only count if you were arrested within 10 years of the new arrest. The date of the conviction does not matter. Only the date of the offense is used to calculate the priorability of a DUI. Thus if you have DUI convictions within ten years of each other, but the dates of the offenses are outside of the ten-year period, your “new” DUI cannot be filed as a felony unless someone is injured in the new collision. Also keep in mind, that if your last DUI was a felony, any new DUIs will be felonies until 10 years pass since your felony DUI conviction.
DRIVER’S LICENSE CONSEQUENCES
A felony DUI is also more serious for license consequences. Specifically, if you are convicted of a first DUI with injury, a vehicle code 23153, your license will be suspended for 1 year. If you have a prior conviction for a DUI, your license will be revoked for 3 years. If you have a prior conviction and you are a 3rd offender, your driver’s license will be suspended for 5 years (which is the maximum time of revocation regardless of the priors with the exception of the court having the ability to suspend a license for 10 years).
PRIOR FELONY DUI V. 4TH DUI
Vehicle Code authorizes the prosecutors to charge a prior DUI as a felony when there are 3 priors DUIs within 10 years or when a person has a prior felony DUI within 10 years. The 10 years are calculated from the offense date to the offense date. The violation for prior felony DUI can be found in California Vehicle Code section 23350.5. The violation for the 4th DUI can be found in California Vehicle Code 23350. Both offenses prescribe alternative punishment, to wit, “up to a year in jail or state prison“. This means that each offense is a “wobbler” and the court or the prosecutor can reduce it to a misdemeanor. There is however one significant difference between these two types of felony DUI. A 4th (or subsequent) DUI, if charged as a felony and sentenced to state prison, will be kept in local jail pursuant to the realignment statutes of 2011 under PC 1170(h). In contrast, a prior felony DUI conviction disqualifies a person from realignment and the sentence will be served in state prison. This difference is based on the reading of both statutes and the case of People v. Gullient, a 2013 Court of Appeals decision from Santa Barbara (212 Cal.App. 4th 992).
Los Angeles DUI attorneys will work tirelessly on your Los Angeles DUI case and will get the best possible results in your case. We also are able to help with any other Los Angeles Criminal Case. Los Angeles DUI Attorney and Los Angeles Criminal defense attorney’s goal is to help you keep your driver’s license and to keep your criminal record clean. Los Angles DUI Attorney approaches each case with the goal of getting your Los Angeles DUI dismissed. It is easy for Los Angeles DUI attorneys to defend most DUI, including felony DUI cases. Los Angeles Criminal Defense and Los Angeles DUI attorney will use all his skills to help you avoid a felony DUI conviction. To talk to Los Angeles DUI lawyer about your case please call our office directly at (818) 921 7744. Los Angeles DUI attorney accepts calls after hours and over the weekend and offers a free consultation in our office near Down Town LA or in the San Fernando Valley. Call now to talk to one of the best Los Angeles DUI lawyers. We will provide quality Los Angeles criminal defense at an affordable price.