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How DUI charges can become felonies

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Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime, no matter what the situation. However, what normally may be a misdemeanor can become a much more serious crime requiring the skills of a DUI criminal defense lawyer when the charge is elevated to a felony.

When this happens, it is usually due to aggravating factors that can include:

An accident resulting in bodily harm. If you get behind the wheel after drinking and you cause an accident resulting in injuries or death to another person, there’s a strong likelihood you will be charged with a felony. Prosecutors must show that the drunk driver is the one who actually caused the bodily harm. If the other driver is the one who is at fault for the accident, then the drunk driving charge will remain a misdemeanor.

You have multiple DUI convictions. In California, DUI offenses are known as “priorable” offenses, meaning that penalties become harsher every time you are convicted on the same charges. As it relates to drunk driving offenses, if you have been convicted three or more times of DUI in the past 10 years, you will probably be charged with a felony if you are arrested again. This also applies to drunk driving offenses that take place out of state, but that would be considered an equivalent crime if committed in California.

Driving under the influence with children in your car. Putting the lives of minors at stake is met with a harsh punishment resulting in felony charges.

Previous felony DUI convictions. If you have any kind of felony DUI conviction, then even if you commit what would normally be considered a misdemeanor DUI, you will be charged with a felony, resulting in heavy fines and penalties.

In all cases, a DUI charge is a serious situation, and it requires an aggressive defense best mounted with the help of an experienced DUI attorney.

The Law Office of David Leicht serves the California communities of Barstow, Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Adelanto, Baker, Needles, Lucerne Valley, Big Bear, San Bernardino, Mojave, Phelan, and Wrightwood. For a free consultation, call (760) 256-3104.