Felony DUI Charges in California | Free Consultations

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While most arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) result in misdemeanor charges, some California DUI crimes are felonies. Almost 4,800 felony DUI arrests were made in 2013, representing 3% of all California DUI arrests.

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In Southern California, Los Angeles County had the largest number of arrests in 2013. Other counties reporting significant numbers of arrests included San Diego County, San Bernardino County, Orange County, and Riverside County.

Conviction rates vary widely from county to county. For example, only about 70% of DUI arrests result in DUI convictions in Los Angeles County, while almost 85% of arrests result in convictions in Orange County. While it is important to have an effective DUI defense attorney wherever a driver is charged, it is essential to hire the best lawyer a driver can find in places like Orange County, where drivers need a strong advocate to help them avoid the serious consequences of a conviction.

For a typical Californian, a conviction can be ruinous. Incarceration and a lengthy loss of driving privileges are the likely short-term consequences, but a felony conviction is a life-changing event. It closes doors to employment opportunities, professional licenses, and the chance to hold public office.

A felony conviction results in a loss of civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm. A felony conviction generally leads to deportation or exclusion of noncitizens from entry into the United States.

The Law Offices of Randy Collins has years of experience representing individuals charged with these offenses. As a top-rated DUI defense lawyer, Randy Collins is committed to obtaining the best possible result for DUI clients in Orange County and across Southern California.

Common Charges

The most common DUI felony charges in California are:

Each offense requires a careful assessment of potential defense strategies. Fortunately, defenses are available that can help the accused avoid felony convictions.

Multiple DUI Convictions

While a driver’s history of past convictions can usually be established without difficulty, there are times when records are unclear or unavailable. That is particularly true when the felony charge is based on a prior out-of-state conviction. In those cases, it is often possible to argue successfully for a reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor.

When the prosecution is able to establish the driver’s conviction record, the defense focuses on challenges to the DUI accusation. A combination of legal challenges to the way the evidence was gathered and factual challenges to whether the evidence proves a DUI can result in an acquittal, a dismissal, or a reduction to a misdemeanor.

Causing Injury or Death

Causing injury while driving under the influence can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. It is typically charged as a felony and is usually penalized more severely than a felony DUI that is based on past convictions. The crime will always be charged as a felony if the driver has two prior DUI convictions within the previous 10 years.

To obtain a conviction of causing injury by DUI in violation of California Vehicle Code 23513 VC, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was “under the influence” and that the accident was caused by the driver’s negligence or by the driver’s violation of a traffic law.

Being “under the influence” means that the consumption of alcohol or drugs impaired the driver’s ability to drive as cautiously as a prudent driver who is sober. Instead of proving that a driver was under the influence, a prosecutor can elect to charge and prove that the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08%.

The prosecution must also prove that the driver broke a traffic law, such as speeding or failing to yield the right of way, and that the traffic violation or the driver’s negligence caused another person to be injured. In some cases, a successful argument can be made that injury was caused by the injured person’s own carelessness, not by the person who has accused of a felony.

In other cases, challenges are based on whether the accused driver was actually DUI and whether the police violated the law when they obtained evidence against the accused.

The most serious charges involve an alleged victim’s death. Vehicular manslaughter and second degree murder are the likely charges when an accident victim dies as the result of a driver’s consumption of alcohol or drugs. Defense strategies generally parallel those that apply to the defense of a DUI causing injury charge.


The maximum penalties for the offenses are more severe than the penalties that apply to misdemeanor convictions. A felony DUI causing injury carries a maximum 4 year sentence. The sentence can be even longer if

Additional penalties include a 5 year driver’s license revocation, a substantial fine, designation as a “Habitual Traffic Offender,” and lengthy attendance at a DUI school.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be penalized by up to 10 years in prison. Lesser penalties can also apply, depending on the degree of negligence exhibited by the driver.

If a fourth or subsequent DUI results in a felony conviction, the court can impose a prison sentence that might be as long as 3 years. Offenders also face a 4 year driver’s license revocation, Habitual Traffic Offender status, and a substantial fine.

Southern California Defense

With offices in Orange County, Riverside County, and elsewhere in Southern California, DUI defense attorney Randy Collins is situated to assist individuals charged with a felony DUI in Los Angeles, San Diego, and other Southern California courts. A proven record of success and a reputation for excellence make The Law Offices of Randy Collins the first choice for drivers charged with serious DUI crimes. To make an appointment at an office near you, call (888) 250-2865