Were You Charged with California Crime Felony DUI Under Vehicle Code 23153?
Some states treat driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI), like a traffic offense. However, DUI has the potential to be charged as a felony in California, which takes an aggressive approach to drunk driving by enforcing tough penalties that can include license suspension, expensive fines, and even incarceration.
If the defendant is found guilty, he or she will also receive a felony record, which can cause lasting problems when seeking employment or applying for professional licenses. If you are a truck driver, taxi driver, pilot, or someone whose occupation is related to transportation, a felony DUI could spell the end of your career. If you or one of your loved ones has been arrested for DUI in California, you need to act quickly to give yourself the best chance of beating the charges and resuming your normal life.
Free Legal Consultation with an Experienced Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer
If you or a family member was arrested for drunk driving in Santa Barbara or Ventura County, it’s in your best interests to talk to a highly experienced California DUI lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled Ventura County DUI attorney will be able to identify and develop defense strategies that could be used to help have your charges reduced, or even result in a dismissal of the case, such as inaccurate breathalyzer readings, lack of probable cause to conduct a traffic stop, or failure of the police to read the Miranda Warning while interrogating you in custody.
The Santa Barbara County DUI attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC have more than 22 years of experience representing defendants charged with intoxicated driving felonies in California, including DUI involving controlled substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. Call our law offices right away at (805) 585-5056 to set up a free legal consultation.
When is Drunk Driving Charged as a Felony in California?
A person can be charged with DUI in California when he or she allegedly operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For CDL holders, such as professional truck drivers, the threshold is set much lower: only 0.04%.
Like many offenses, intoxicated driving in California has the potential to be charged as a misdemeanor, which a lesser type of offense, or a felony, which carries very serious criminal penalties if the defendant is found guilty. Though generally charged as a misdemeanor, there are three situations in which DUI can be charged as a felony under state laws:
- The DUI results in physical injury to anyone other than the alleged offender (Cal. Vehicle Code § 23153(b)). If the victim dies, the defendant could be charged with vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter under Cal. Penal Code § 191.5.
- The defendant has a prior conviction of felony DUI. In this scenario, the second DUI is automatically charged as a felony, even if it would otherwise be classified as a misdemeanor offense.
- The defendant has at least three misdemeanor DUI convictions from within the past 10 years.
Penalties for Felony DWI in Ventura County: Jail, Fines, License Suspension
Felonies are the most serious types of crimes in California, and as such, carry harsh penalties whose negative consequences can be felt long after sentencing concludes. If you were charged with felony DUI in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, you may be facing the following penalties:
- If the DUI resulted in bodily injury:
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- License Suspension — 5 years
- Prison Sentence — Up to 16 years (up to 10 years, plus an additional sentence of 1 to 6 years depending on the number and severity of the injuries)
- If the DUI did not result in bodily injury:
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- License Suspension — 4 years
- Prison Sentence — 16 months, 2 years, 3 years
In addition to being fined, incarcerated, and losing your driving privileges, you could also be required to participate in up to 30 months of DUI school, which can cost thousands of dollars. Furthermore, the court may order you to pay restitution to the victim if the DUI resulted in property damage or injury.
As these penalties make amply clear, felony DUI is an extremely serious allegation. If you or your daughter or son was charged with drunk driving in Santa Barbara County or Ventura County, it is critically important that you retain an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to obtain a sentence reduction, or have the case against you thrown out altogether.
Don’t wait to start reviewing your legal situation with the aggressive California DWI lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth. Call our law offices right away at (805) 585-5056 for a free legal consultation. We will keep your information confidential.