Ventura Felony DUI Lawyer
Defense for Felony Drunk Driving Charges in CA
Drunk driving is a serious criminal charge – especially as a felony DUI offense. California DUI laws use three factors to determine whether or not the prosecutor can pursue a felony conviction: injury/death, prior DUIs, and prior DUI felonies. These factors, known as aggravating factors, can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. In some cases, felony DUI versus a misdemeanor offense can differentiate between six months in jail (for simple misdemeanor DUI) or three years in a California state prison.
Contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP today to get the hard-hitting legal guidance and representation you need and deserve. When it comes to DUI defense, we believe that experience matters. Our firm has spent more than 50 collective years developing a reputation for excellence in criminal defense law. Today, we have a proven record for success behind us and are wholeheartedly prepared to put this experience to work for your case.
Contact us today to discuss your options with our Ventura felony DUI attorney.
When Does a DUI Become a Felony in California?
Drunk driving can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the unique circumstances surrounding each case. In most cases, drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor offense. However, extenuating circumstances can result in a felony accusation instead. Generally speaking, there are three reasons that a California drunk driving accusation could be enhanced to a felony:
- The driver caused an injury or death
- The driver has three or more prior DUI convictions
- The driver has a previous felony DUI conviction
On the other hand, a regular DUI conviction occurs when the motorist is found guilty of driving over the legal BAC limit (.08%). Regular DUI is subject to less severe penalties than felony DUI. Additionally, a driver could be arrested and convicted of drunk driving if law enforcement determines that his/her BAC is under the legal limit, but high enough to affect the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle.
DUI Causing Injury or Death
Under California Vehicle Code § 23513, DUI causing injury or death can be charged as a felony criminal offense. In order to face a conviction, the prosecution must demonstrate two things: the defendant drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs; the defendant committed an additional act of negligence or traffic violation that caused the injury or death of another person.
According to California law, there are three different types of injury-related, felony DUI charges. These crimes include, "DUI causing injury," "DUI vehicular manslaughter," and "DUI second-degree murder."
Multiple DUI Convictions
Multiple drunk driving convictions can also lead to a felony drunk driving conviction. California vehicle law designates drunk driving as a "priorable" offense; in other words, subsequent DUI convictions can lead to stiff penalties, longer prison sentences, extended probation. Drunk driving and wet reckless driving are priorable DUI convictions and include out-of-state DUI equivalents. Generally speaking, you may be subject to heightened penalties after three or more priorable offenses.
Previous Felony Conviction DUI
Like simple DUI, past felony DUI convictions can count against you during a DUI case as well. However, even one past felony DUI can result in severe legal penalties. For example, a driver with one "DUI with injury" conviction could face an additional felony offense, even if the second DUI did not involve injuries or fatalities.
What are the Penalties for Felony DUI in California?
Felony DUI is punishable by sixteen months, two years, or three years in a state prison. The specific circumstances surrounding your arrest will determine the length of your prison sentence. In addition to incarceration, felony DUI will result in fines ranging from $390 to $1,000 and up to four years of driver's license revocation. Finally, a felony DUI conviction will lead to DMV Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) designation.
According to California law, an extremely high BAC (.015% or more) can result in stiffer penalties. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test, causing a traffic accident, or driving extremely fast can increase the consequences of your DUI as well. Finally, driving with a BAC of .08% with a child in the car can result in an enhanced sentence. Many states enhance DUI penalties if the driver is found with a BAC that exceeds approximately twice the legal limit.
Other aggravated circumstances might include:
- Property damage
- Prior convictions
Get Representation for Your Felony DUI Charges
Were you charged with a felony DUI offense in Ventura or the surrounding area? Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can help. As DUI attorneys in Ventura, we believe that a successful Felony DUI defense case starts with a plan; an aggressive strategy to combat the allegations held against you. With more than five decades of legal experience behind us, our team has the skill to help you obtain a favorable case outcome.
If you are faced with drunk driving charges and facing a felony offense, contact us today for a FREE consultation!