Drivers charged with driving under the influence (DUI) may face severe penalties in California. The court may treat a DUI as a misdemeanor or a felony — this leads some drivers to wonder when DUI charges became felonies.
The court has treated some DUIs as felonies since 1935. Other DUIs are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Get more information about the history of DUI charges in California right here. You may also find out what makes some DUIs misdemeanors and other DUIs felonies.
The History of DUI Charges in California
Driving under the influence has occurred nearly since the invention of the automobile. In past decades, people did not worry as much about driving after having a few drinks. However, it has always been recognized as a problem. The first drunk driving laws were written in 1906 in New Jersey.
However, we did not develop limits for blood alcohol content (BAC) for several additional decades. In the 1930s, it was decided that the maximum limit for BAC should be 0.15%. The California Vehicle Code of 1935 was also adopted at around this time.
According to the Bureau of Criminal Statistics, the Vehicle Code of 1935 included charges for both misdemeanor and felony DUIs. Originally, drivers only faced felony charges if they operated a vehicle while intoxicated and caused an injury.
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The Current State of Felony DUI Laws in California
Felony charges have remained in use in California since 1935. However, the legal limit for BAC is now 0.08% for drivers over 21. There have been additional changes to felony charges for DUIs. You may now face felony charges simply if:
- You have three previous misdemeanor DUI convictions within 10 years.
- You have one prior felony DUI within 10 years.
Drivers may also face felony charges if they cause an accident while driving under the influence. Felony charges apply if someone else is hurt or killed in a DUI accident. Make sure you handle any DUI charge very seriously.
Penalties for Felony DUI Charges in California
Drivers charged with a felony DUI may face severe consequences in the state of California. A felony DUI with no injuries could result in:
- Prison time of up to three years.
- Fines of thousands of dollars.
- DUI schooling for up to 30 months.
The court may also order you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) after a felony DUI. An IID measures your BAC each time you try to start your vehicle. The mechanism prevents you from driving if you have an elevated BAC. These devices must be installed on all vehicles you regularly drive, and all vehicles registered in your name.
You should note that these are only the penalties for a basic felony DUI. You might face harsher penalties if someone was hurt or killed in a DUI accident.
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Focus on Reducing a Felony DUI Charge in California
Felony DUI charges have been in use for decades in California. However, that does not make these charges less serious. You must get legal help on your side if you are accused of a felony DUI. A lawyer may focus on getting your charges reduced.
Felony charges may sometimes be reduced to a misdemeanor accusation. Many felony DUI charges are actually “wobblers.” The prosecution may charge wobbles as misdemeanors or felonies. A lawyer may help you seek less-serious charges after a felony accusation.
Your lawyer may also work to get your charges dismissed in some cases. Getting a felony DUI charge dismissed may pose a challenge. The court often takes these charges very seriously. However, if you were pulled over without reasonable cause, a lawyer could help you.
A DUI lawyer may also assist you if your felony charges go to court. Your lawyer may work to build your defense starting today. A lawyer could take steps to discredit the testimony of a police officer. A lawyer could also work to question the results of a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Find out more by reaching out to a law firm right now.
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Find Out When DUIs Became a Felony With a Lawyer
When did DUIs first become a felony in California? There have been felony charges for DUIs since the 1930s. You should always treat these charges very seriously. Get legal advice after a felony DUI accusation from the Simmrin Law Group. You may also complete our online contact form.
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