Many residents of California are familiar with the state’s three strikes law. This law makes it easier for the court to hand down harsh penalties for “repeat offenders.” You may wonder if the three strikes law applies to DUIs in California.
Some DUI convictions may count as a “strike” on your criminal record — however, this only applies in some circumstances. Let’s review when a DUI may count as a “strike” right now. You may also focus on the impact of the three strikes law in California.
Updates to California’s Three Strike Law
The three strikes law first went into effect in California in 1994. Initially, this law required the court to punish all individuals with three felony convictions harshly. Individuals with three convictions would face 25 years to life as a mandatory prison sentence.
However, the state updated the three strikes law in 2012 with Proposition 36. Proposition 36 reduced the severity of the three strikes law for nonviolent offenders. Currently, the three strikes law only applies to convictions of a violent or serious offense. Examples of serious felonies may include:
- Voluntary manslaughter or murder
- Rape, sodomy, or lewd acts on a child
You should be aware that the above list is not comprehensive. You may notice that DUIs are not a clear-cut example of a “serious” or “violent” felony. Dig deeper into the connection between DUIs and the three strikes law now.
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DUIs May Count as a Strike in California
The state of California most often prosecutes a DUI as a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors do not count as strikes under the three strikes law. However, the court may treat a DUI as a felony in some cases. You may face felony charges if:
- You have three or more previous DUI convictions within 10 years.
- You injured someone while driving under the influence.
- You killed someone while driving under the influence.
The court may treat a felony charge for a DUI as a strike against you. A DUI conviction may even be your third strike. Drivers who hurt or kill others in a DUI accident might face 25 years to life in prison if the DUI accident was their third strike.
Penalties for Felony DUI Charges in California
Felony DUI charges may have significant repercussions on your life. A conviction may be considered a strike on your record. The court may treat you more harshly for another criminal act in the future. You may also face penalties such as:
- Thousands of dollars in fines.
- Mandatory attendance in DUI school.
- Mandatory usage of an ignition interlock device (IID).
An IID is a breathalyzer device that connects to your vehicle. You must use the device each time you want to drive. The IID measures your blood alcohol content (BAC), and you cannot operate a vehicle with an elevated BAC.
Note that you may face jail time after a DUI conviction — this applies even if the DUI is not your third strike. You may be charged with a felony if you hurt someone else while driving under the influence. You could also receive a felony charge for merely having three or more prior DUI convictions on your record. In other words, you could get a strike even if you didn’t hurt anyone.
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Get Help Handling a Felony DUI Charge in California
You may face felony charges for a DUI in California. You do not have to address these charges on your own. You may reach out to a DUI lawyer to get help. A lawyer may help if you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges.
Addressing your charges may help you avoid getting a strike. Your lawyer may get your charges dismissed entirely. A lawyer could also work to reduce your charges to a misdemeanor, allowing you to avoid a strike.
Finally, a lawyer in California could represent you in court. Your lawyer may work to demonstrate that you were not breaking the law. A lawyer could also seek a reduced sentence if your DUI did not cause injuries to anyone else. Find out more today.
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Contact a DUI Lawyer to Discuss the Three Strikes Law
The Simmrin Law Group may help if you are facing felony DUI charges in California. Reach out to us if you have questions about California’s Three Strike Law and DUIs. We may be able to build your defense right now. You may also fill out our online contact form to learn more.
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