About California Felony DUI

California drunk-driving cases fall into one of three categories felonies, misdemeanors, or wobblers (those that could be treated either as felonies or misdemeanors).  No matter what you are charged with you should always consult a competent California DUI Defense Lawyer.  Typically, California first-offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors.  However, in certain circumstances, cases may be treated as felonies.  How a California Driving Under the Influence case is categorized depends on a number of factors, including prior DUI convictions and whether or not injuries or death of another person resulted from the drunken driving incident.

When is a California DUI a Felony?

Under California’s Vehicle Code Section 23153 “Any person who, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and any drug, drives a vehicle and when so driving does any act forbidden by law or neglects any duty imposed by law in the driving of such vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than himself, is guilty of a felony.”  Criminal charges are mostly defined by the type of punishment that results with conviction.  Misdemeanor California DUIs can result in up to one year in a county jail, while  felony California DUIs can result in a year or more in a state prison.  

There are some California DUI cases that are known as “wobblers.”  These CA drunk driving cases can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies.  If, for example, a California DUI offender is found to have caused injury to another but the injuries are relatively minor, then the case may be charged as a misdemeanor.  However, if the injuries sustained by the other person are serious, then the  California DUI offender can be charged with a felony, even if it the individual’s first DUI offense.  In addition to felony cases that arise from injury or death of another, California Drunk Driving offenders arrested for the fourth time for drunk driving within 10 years face felony charges even if no accident or injury occurred.  CA Drunk driving that results in the death of another almost always will be treated as a felony.  This type of DUI will fall under one of three categories -- vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, or second-degree murder.