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Why might a DUI charge be upgraded to a felony DUI?

Dale Gribow Jan. 1, 2015

It is pretty common knowledge that, California residents who are arrested for driving while impaired will face DUI charges. However, the circumstances surrounding the incident can have a significant effect on the severity of the charge and the associated penalties. Most DUI charges are considered misdemeanor offenses, but certain circumstances can result in increasing the charge to a felony DUI.

When it comes to a misdemeanor DUI offense, the penalties associated with this charge run the gamut from license suspension and fines to also including probation and/or jail time. The number of offenses on a person’s record will play a key role in the severity of the penalties ordered, if a conviction is ultimately secured. In order for a charge to be elevated to felony status certain circumstances must be present. Some of these include:

  • Elevated BAC

  • Bodily harm/death

  • Prior convictions

  • Children in vehicle

  • Driving on a suspended or restricted license

A conviction on a felony DUI charge can result in higher fines, lengthy jail/prison terms and a number of other consequences. These penalties may seem particularly harsh for those who are accused of causing bodily harm to others or endangering the lives of minors. For instance, the minimum sentencing for a felony DUI with injury includes a six to 10 year prison term, a fine up to $5,000 and restitution payments for the injured party.

California residents who are charged with a felony DUI have a lot at stake. Utilizing a strategic criminal defense may be the key to achieving the best possible outcome. Taking the right approach, whether that is seeking a dismissal of charges, conceding to lesser charges pursuant a plea agreement and/or seeking alternative sentencing, can help the accused resolve the issue in a manner that best meets his or her interests.