According to California State law, driving under the influence of alcohol generally is generally filed as a misdemeanor. However, some DUIs can also be filed as a felony irrespective of the amount of alcohol in the blood stream of the accused if one of the following conditions is met. These conditions are:
- When the accused causes severe body harm or death to third parties.
If the accident merely caused body cuts, bruises or scrapes, the prosecutor would not charge you under a felony. For you to be charged with a felony under the California DUI law the accident must have resulted to death or causes severe injury to third parties.
- If it is the fourth or more DUI offense within a ten years’ time.
California law treats the first three DUI offenses committed within 10 years time as a misdemeanor. If you commit four or more DUI offenses within a period of 10 years, your charges no longer fall under a misdemeanor. California State law allows the prosecutor to charge you with a felony.
- If the accused had been convicted of a felony before.
If the accused was convicted of a felony for a previous DUI case, all the subsequent charges are filed as a felony.
Felony charges are much harsher than misdemeanor charges. The accused may:
- Serve a jail term whose length depends on the severity of the DUI offense.
- Have their driving license suspended for a long period of time or be completely revoked.
- Be ordered to serve under strictly monitored felony probation.
- Fines and fees.
- Have to undergo extensive alcohol classes.
- Have to undergo mandatory rehabilitation or treatment programs.
- Be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that detects your alcohol levels and ‘locks’ your engine.
The penalties in felony DUI, particularly accident DUI depend on a number of factors:
- The nature and cause of the accident
- The severity of the accident
- The number of the affected of people.
- The defendant’s criminal background.
- The circumstances, age and cause of the prior DUI cases.