Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is typically charged as a misdemeanour offence in Orange County, California. Though, some aggravating factors can result in a felony DUI charge. If you are facing your first, second or third DUI case, you will most likely get charged with a misdemeanour DUI case. However, in the following conditions, a California drunk driving charge may result in a felony charge.
Fourth or More DUI within Ten years
When a person gets over three previous DUI convictions within a decade, the fourth DUI arrest will automatically be charged as a felony DUI in California. A felony case has stiffer consequences that can seriously affect a person's life in the long run. In certain circumstances, someone who has been found guilty of a felony DUI can have their driving privileges revoked for up to four years. They may also face jail time, along with probation. The offence could also go in their record. For this reason, it is very important to hire an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer to fight your fourth DUI case.
A lot of creative ways exist to challenge a felony DUI case. For instance, a lawyer may argue that the arresting officer had used a faulty breathalyzer rendering the chemical test unacceptable. The lawyer could also challenge one or more of the earlier DUI convictions to expunge any of those convictions from the driver's record, thereby avoiding the multiple offender felony conviction.
DUI with Great Bodily Harm
If a person causes great bodily injury to a passenger or another road user, while driving high on drugs and alcohol, they would get a felony DUI charge. However, two conditions are necessary to prove that you caused great bodily injury to another person. First, the accident has to be your fault. Secondly, the injuries sustained by the other person has to be a great bodily injury.
Consequences for this type of DUI conviction would usually include jail time in county jail, paying a fine, suspension of driving privileges and court-mandated alcohol education programs.
Again it is important to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to help you fight this charge. A good lawyer would successfully argue that you were not drunk before the incident; they would most likely challenge the accuracy of the test and argue that you did not break any laws or act with negligence.
A Previous DUI Felony Conviction
If you have ever been convicted of a felony DUI, any subsequent DUI offences will automatically result in your being charged with another DUI felony. Once again, an experienced DUI lawyer would argue in your defence to decrease the severity of the penalties. Your lawyer could find out if the law enforcement officers violated any of your rights during the stop and search. If they did, your charges for a DUI felony may be dropped. In California, Senate Bill No. 1046 allows most DUI defendants to keep driving as long as they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a specified period.