Is a third charge for driving under the influence (DUI) a felony in California? Each time you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you face harsher penalties. Initial DUI charges are often treated as misdemeanors. Subsequent charges may receive different treatment.
However, a third DUI is not generally treated as a felony. There are situations where you could face felony charges for a third DUI. Let’s review these situations with this article.
Felony Charges for Multiple DUI Convictions in California
All DUI charges in California are considered “priorable.” This means that they remain on your record after your conviction. Generally, a DUI charge stays on your record for 10 years. Every time you are charged with a DUI for the next 10 years, the previous charges work against you.
You may face felony charges if you have enough prior DUIs. However, a third DUI does not qualify as a felony just because you have past misdemeanor DUI charges. You must have three prior misdemeanor DUIs to be charged with a felony. This means that the court may use felony charges for a fourth DUI.
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Reasons for a Felony Charge after a Third DUI
You may still end up facing felony charges for a third DUI in California. The court may treat your offense as a felony if you hurt or killed someone while driving under the influence. You may end up facing charges for:
- DUI causing injury
- Gross vehicular manslaughter
- DUI second-degree murder
These charges are “wobblers” in California. Wobblers are prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies at the discretion of the prosecution. However, these offenses are often treated as felonies. This means you may face a felony charge for a third DUI in California.
Felony Charges for a Third DUI With a Previous Felony Conviction
You should not face felony DUI charges for a simple DUI if you only have two previous misdemeanor DUI convictions. However, you may end up charged with a felony even if you did not hurt anyone. This occurs if you have a past felony DUI conviction on your record.
A felony conviction for a DUI stays on your record for 10 years and you only need one prior felony DUI to be charged with another felony. Therefore, there are multiple reasons for a third DUI to be a felony in California.
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Penalties for a Felony DUI in California
The court hands down harsh penalties if you are convicted of a felony DUI in California. You may end up:
- Fined by the court.
- Ordered to pay restitution to individuals hurt in the accident.
- Sentenced to time in prison.
- Forced to attend a lengthy DUI school.
You may also install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle for several years. IIDs are personal breathalyzer devices. They measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) each time you want to start your vehicle. Refusal to install an IID may cause the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your license.
As you can see, a felony conviction may impact your life in major ways. Make sure you’re ready to handle a felony charge by reaching out to a DUI lawyer in California. Start working on your defense now.
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Defenses to Felony DUI Charges in California
You don’t have to handle a felony DUI accusation on your own in California. You may work with a law firm to build your defense. A lawyer could take steps to get your felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor. This may help you avoid harsher penalties.
Your lawyer may also defend you in court. A lawyer could work to show that you were not actually driving under the influence. Your lawyer could also demonstrate that you were stopped without reasonable cause.
Building your claim may involve disputing the results of a BAC test. Get help quickly so you have a lawyer on your side during police questioning. It’s recommended that you do not speak with the prosecution before you contact a lawyer. Get representation on your side today.
Ask a Lawyer if a Third DUI Is a Felony in California
A third DUI is not automatically a felony in California. However, you could face felony charges for a third DUI if someone was hurt or if you have a prior felony DUI conviction. Get help in this situation by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group. You may speak with us through a free consultation today.
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