IS DUI A FELONY?

January 19, 2016

is DUI a felonyLos Angeles DUI attorney can answer the questions: “is DUI a felony”.Los Angeles DUI lawyer has years of experience defending DUIs in Los Angeles county. Los Angele DUI lawyer’s experience ranges from first offense DUI offense to very serious felony DUI cases involving multiple prior DUI offenses or an injury to someone. If you are arrested for a felony DUI, do not despair; often, DUI lawyer Los Angeles can creatively develop a defense that will be very helpful in your case.

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 3 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.  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 Angles DA’s office can file a Los Angeles felony DUI charge.

If the injury is severe, Los Angeles District Attorney can add enhancements.  Here are main points about such a felony DUI charge in Los Angeles.

  1. A California Penal Code section 12022.7 is a Great Bodily Injury (GBI) enhancement are 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 of injury.   Great Bodily Injury charge under PC 12022.7 adds 3 years in the state prision and makes the offense a violent strike under Califonia Penal Code section 667.5.  An offense of a violent strike requires sentences in the state prison to be served at 85% and also doubles any future crimes so that a person who is convicted of a felony DUI with GBI allegation proven can be sentenced up to 6 years (instead of 3) and serve 85% of that (instead of 50%) and any future felony will double, 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 the very serious DUI cases and can help you defend your case even when your case seems indefensible.
  2. If the injury is not severe, but there is stil “hurt or harm” to the body, the charge of 23153 can be filed.  The case law allowing 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 of “bodily injury” for felony drunk driving cases in California.  In Lares, the court simply said that “bodily inuyr mean just what it says – harm or hurt to the body.  The court indicated that it must be more then just being “shaking up” or “fright” or “minor headack”.  In Lares, the court permitted a felony DUI charge where the victim had a “back strain”.
  3. A person who was arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, where muliple people were injured in an accident can be charged with a “multiple victim” DUI enhancement.   Under California Vehicle Code section 23558, a person who caused injury to more then one person after a DUI in Los Angeles can and will most likely be charged by Los Angeles County District Attorney with separate enhancement that will give additional punishment of 1 years for each alleged victim.  For example, if you are involved in an accident where there were two people each of who was injured, yoiu can be charged with a felony DUI that carries up to 3 years in teh state prison and an additional year for the second person.  So the maximum prison sentence is increased to 4 years instead of 3.

Thus, to answer the question “is DUI a felony”, DUI attorneys Los Angeles need to know how many priors you have and if someone is injured or died because of a DUI-related collision.

Yet, some DUI with injury cases will not be felonies. 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.

The priors that can be alleged for a DUI only matter if they are within ten years of each other. The date of the conviction is not important. Only the date of the offense is used to calculate 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 attorney 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 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.

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