Felony DUI There's No Alternative

Orange County Felony DUI Attorney

Defending Your Rights and Freedom in a Drunk Driving Case

Generally, a violation of Orange County’s driving under the influence (DUI) law is a misdemeanor. However, in certain situations, the level of charge can be elevated to a felony. Because felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, being convicted of a felony DUI can have substantial ramifications on your life. Instead of a maximum jail term of 1 year, you could be imprisoned for up to 4 years (depending on the facts of the case). Additionally, you may be subject to a higher fine and a lengthier driver’s license suspension period. A lot is at stake in these types of matters, which is why it is vital that you speak with an experienced lawyer about your case.

At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, our team has years of experience representing individuals charged with drunk driving offenses. As a top-rated felony DUI defense lawyer, Randy Collins knows what it takes to seek favorable results for DUI clients in Orange County and across Southern Orange County. We are prepared to go to battle for you and work toward an optimal outcome on your behalf.

Our felony DUI attorneys in Orange County want to hear your side of the story and build a solid defense for you. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling us at (844) 241-1221 or contacting us online.

What Is a Felony DUI in Orange County?

Although most driving under the influence arrests result in a misdemeanor charge, some DUI offenses are felonies. An elevated level of charge may be levied when aggravating factors are present. Aggravating factors are those that make an offense more severe. In some driving under the influence cases, a DUI becomes a felony when the driver has one or more previous convictions. In others, felony DUI charges can be triggered even if this is the driver’s first violation.

The situations that can lead to felony DUI charges in Orange County include:

  • Multiple DUIs (Orange County Vehicle Code 23550): If a person has three or more previous DUI convictions within the past 10 years, they may be charged with a felony upon a fourth or subsequent violation.
  • Prior Felony DUI (Orange County Vehicle Code 23550.5): A person may be charged with a felony DUI if they were, within the past 10 years, convicted of a driving under the influence violation that constituted a felony.
  • DUI Causing Injury (Orange County Vehicle Code 23554): Any person who operates a vehicle while under the influence and causes an accident resulting in injury to another may be charged with a felony.

Each of the cases listed above requires careful analysis and assessment to determine potential defense strategies. At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, our felony DUI lawyers in Orange County can examine your case and discuss avenues we can pursue to fight your charge.

Felony DUI Penalties in Orange County

Felonies are serious crimes, and, as such, they carry severe penalties. The punishments that can be imposed for a felony DUI depend on the nature of the offense.

The potential conviction penalties for felony DUIs include the following:

  • Fourth or subsequent offense, or DUI after previous felony DUI:
    • 16 months or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Up to 5 years’ probation
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
    • Up to 4 years’ driver’s license revocation
    • Completion of a DUI program
    • Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender
  • DUI causing injury:
    • 2, 3, or 4 years in prison
    • Up to 5 years’ probation
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
    • Up to 1 year of driver’s license suspension
    • Completion of a DUI program

If the victim suffered serious bodily injury or more than one person was injured, the alleged offender could face enhanced penalties.

In 2013, almost 4,800 felony DUI arrests were made, representing 3% of all Orange County DUI arrests. In Southern Orange County, 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.

It is essential to hire an effective DUI lawyer in places like Orange County. Drivers need a strong advocate to help them seek a favorable outcome and increase the chances of avoiding or minimizing penalties.

A felony DUI conviction can be ruinous. Incarceration and a lengthy loss of driving privileges are the likely short-term consequences. But there are also lasting effects. A conviction closes doors to employment opportunities, professional licenses, and the chance to hold public office.

Ways to Fight a Multiple DUI Charge

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 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.

Challenging a DUI Resulting in Injury Charge

Causing injury while driving under the influence is typically charged as a felony and is usually penalized more severely than a felony DUI 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 Orange County Vehicle Code 23513 VC, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver:

  • Was “under the influence”; and
  • Was negligent; or
  • Violated a traffic law (such as speeding or failing to yield right of way); and
  • Caused an accident because of their negligence or traffic violation and led to another person being injured

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%.

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.

Defending Against Felony DUI Accusations

With offices in Orange County, Riverside County, and elsewhere in Southern Orange County, felony DUI attorney Randy Collins is situated to assist individuals charged with a felony DUI in Los Angeles, San Diego, and other Southern Orange County 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.

Make an appointment at an office near you by contacting our firm at (844) 241-1221 today.

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