San Diego DUI Defense Lawyer
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense in the state of California. Although most DUI charges are misdemeanors, you could face increased penalties and consequences if charged with felony DUI. DUI is charged as a felony in the following situations:
- Your DUI resulted in death or injury to another person. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecutor can charge you with a felony DUI for injury or killing another person in one of three different ways: Driving under the influence causing injury (California Vehicle Code 23513), DUI Vehicular Manslaughter, or DUI Second-Degree Murder.
- You have 3 or more prior DUI or wet reckless convictions on your record within 10 years. If you have been convicted of 3 or more DUIs within the last 10 years, any further offenses will automatically be charged as felony DUIs. Prior convictions can include any combination of a DUI conviction in California, a wet reckless conviction in California, or an out of state conviction that is equivalent to DUI in California.
- You have at least 1 prior felony conviction on your record. If you have previously been convicted of at least one felony DUI, any further DUI will be charged as a felony. Regardless of whether the offense would normally be charged as a simple misdemeanor with no aggravating factors or if the last felony DUI was more than 10 years ago, you will be charged with a felony for any following DUIs.
Felony DUI Penalties in California
Sentencing for a felony DUI is dependent upon the specifics of the incident, the existence of any aggravating factors, and your record. Penalties for felony DUI can include the following:
- DUI Causing Injury: The offense is a wobbler, which means it could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, though in most cases it is charged as a felony. If you are convicted of drunk driving and causing injury to another person, your sentence could involve license suspension, fines and restitution to the victim, and incarceration in a state prison for up to 6 years.
- Four or more DUIs: You will always be charged with a felony for drunk driving if you already have at least 3 DUI convictions on your record within the last 10 years. The penalties for conviction of this offense include fines, license suspension for up to 4 years, and incarceration in a state prison for up to 3 years.
- Vehicular Manslaughter: If you are convicted of DUI that led to the death of another person, your sentencing will depend upon the circumstances of your case. Your sentencing could include up to $10,000 in fines, restitution to the victim’s family, and license suspension. Incarceration will depend upon your criminal record and whether the charge is for simple vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter. You could be sentenced to up to 15 years’ incarceration or life in prison if you were previously convicted of DUI offenses.
Enhanced Penalties for DUI in California
The penalties for intoxicated driving are increased if the crime involved various aggravating factors. You could face enhanced penalties if you are charged with DUI that involved any of the following:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above .15%
- You were driving with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle
- You refused to take a breath or blood test to determine your BAC
- You were speeding excessively
- You were driving recklessly
- You caused an accident
- You caused an accident and then committed hit and run
- You are under the age of 21
- You were on probation for a prior DUI
- You were driving on a suspended or revoked license
If you are charged with DUI that includes any type of aggravating factor, it is important that you enlist skilled legal counsel as soon as possible. Your defense lawyer can seek to have the potential penalties reduced or may be able to fight to have the sentencing enhancements dropped from the charges.
Ways to Beat a Felony DUI Charge
With the assistance of a knowledgeable San Diego, CA DUI attorney, you can fight the serious allegations made against you. The Law Office of Marc S. Kohnen can assess the circumstances that led to your charges to determine whether your case was negatively impacted by any of the following factors:
- The officer did not have probable cause to stop your vehicle
- You were not read your Miranda Rights when arrested
- The breath machine used was incorrectly calibrated or maintained improperly
- You were not observed for 30 minutes prior to the breath test to make sure you did not vomit or burp
- The field sobriety testing was administered incorrectly
- You performed poorly during field sobriety testing because of health issues or physical disabilities
- Your blood sample was not taken by a trained professional
- Your arm was cleaned with an alcohol-based swab before a blood sample was drawn
- Your blood sample was not analyzed by a trained and qualified professional
- Your blood sample was tainted in some way
Charged with felony DUI in San Diego?
If you are facing enhanced or felony DUI charges, it is imperative that you understand your rights and all available options so that you can make an informed decision about your case. The penalties are too severe to risk fighting the charges on your own or relying upon an overworked public defender. You deserve the powerful defense of an experienced San Diego DUI attorney. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation and obtain the aggressive advocacy you need!