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.
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 becomes 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. 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. 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 Califonia 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 a GBI allegations will serve 50% of his jail sentence, but with a GBI allegation, much more. Also, a GBI allegation double 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”.
- 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 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.
Los Angeles DUI attorneys will work tirelessly on your DUI case and will get the best possible results in your case. Our goal is to keep your driver’s license and your record clean. It is not easy to defend a felony DUI but a Los Angeles DUI attorney will use all his effort to avoid a felony conviction. To talk to Los Angeles DUI lawyer about your case please call our officer (818) 921 7744 right now. We can schedule a free consultation with you at one of our offices in Down Town LA or in San Fernando Valley. Call to talk to one of the best Los Angeles DUI lawyers now. We will provide quality defense at an affordable price.
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 an exception of the court having the ability to suspend a license for 10 years).