Nobody wants to be arrested for driving under the influence. It carries a range of penalties from heavy fines to jail time and even temporary or permanent loss of your driving privileges. It stays on your record for a long time, possibly for good. But is it a felony?
A felony conviction carries with it much greater penalties that follow you forever and can even restrict your rights. Learn how a felony DUI can affect you, the kinds of effects such a conviction can have, and how a DUI attorney can help.
What Is a Felony?
There are generally three (3) types of crimes with which you can be charged: an infraction, a misdemeanor and a felony. A misdemeanor carries fines and imprisonment in the county jail for up to one (1) year. Crimes that carry a state prison sentence of more than a year are known as felonies.
Consequences of Felony Conviction
A conviction of any kind after you turn 18 remains on your record for life, and can carry severe consequences. Of these, felony convictions are the worst. A felony can carry a state prison sentence anywhere from one (1) year to life, depending on how severe the crime.
You will be asked to declare any felony convictions on job applications in the future. You can even lose your right to vote, drive, own firearms and a number of other rights and privileges.
Is DUI a Felony?
The answer to this question is not as cut-and-dried as you might think. The simplest response to the question is “sometimes.” It depends on how often you’ve been charged and convicted of the offense, on the extenuating circumstances of the conviction — if there was an accident, property damage, injuries or the like, and a number of other factors.
First, Second and Third Offense DUI
You have a lot of leeway with DUI in California. Most of the time, assuming there are no extenuating circumstances, you’re going to be charged with a misdemeanor. This holds true even if you have been convicted before, assuming that your arrest resulted without incident and there was no accident, injury or property damage.
In general, a charge of DUI carries penalties of anywhere from three (3) to five (5) years of probation to up to one (1) year in jail, community service, fines of around $2,800.00, suspension or revocation of your driver’s license from six (6) months to anywhere up to three (3) years and mandatory alcohol education classes from three (3), six (6), or nine (9) months for a first DUI offense, to eighteen (18) months for multiple DUI offenders. You can even be required to install an ignition interlock device (I.I.D.) on any car you own or operate. Of course, the non-legal consequences are that your auto insurance rates will climb unbelievably high.
There are certain circumstances under which your conviction can be a felony DUI. These circumstances vary by situation but some of these include:
- Excessive, habitual convictions
- Injury or death of another person
Particularly in the case of another person’s injury or death, a DUI can be charged as a felony. In this case, other charges such as manslaughter or homicide may be levied against a defendant as well.
If you are convicted of a DUI at the felony level, you will be subject to a state prison sentence or formal probation for five (5) years, jail time of at least six (6) months, fines of around $3,000.00, mandatory alcohol education, I.I.D. installation in your car and revocation of your driver’s license. You will also be subject to the lifelong consequences of a felony conviction.
The serious consequences that go along with a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol make it essential for you to seek the services of an experienced DUI attorney. A criminal conviction is nothing to play around with.
Many people might choose to forego legal representation for a variety of reasons. But whether it’s because you’re embarrassed, afraid you can’t afford representation, or because you think you can handle it yourself, foregoing such representation is a bad idea.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney
Consider: charges aren’t brought against people lightly. If you’re being charged, it’s because the state thinks they have a case. Their attorneys are experienced in prosecuting criminals and you need someone in your corner who can help you effectively defend your innocence. In addition, having legal representation is a basic right that can never be denied. It could be the most important right you have.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI at any level, but especially if there’s the threat of a felony conviction, don’t risk going it alone. Get in touch with me so we may discuss how I can help you now. I have over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, and can ensure your rights are protected. For more information and an initial case evaluation, get in touch with me today at 916-444-1400 or use my email contact form.