Cases of driving under the influence (DUI) can be classified either as felonies or misdemeanors. How each individual case is classified depends on several different factors, including prior convictions, whether or not there has been injury to another, and whether or not there was a minor in the vehicle. If you are charged with a felony DUI it is a very serious offense which will usually result in the imposition of very severe penalties. While anyone charged with drunk driving should consult a Santa Clara DUI lawyer, it is absolutely imperative for anyone facing a felony DUI charge to do so.
Felony DUI Defined
Under California's Vehicle Code 23152, any drunk driving offense that does not cause bodily injury to a third party is considered a misdemeanor. California's Vehicle Code 23153 states that:
“Any person who, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and any drug, drives a vehicle and when so driving does any act forbidden by law or neglects any duty imposed by law in the driving of such vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than himself, is guilty of a felony.”
In addition, a DUI offense may be classified as a felony if there have been two or more prior convictions within ten years or if it is found that the driver committed another illegal act or failed to perform a legal duty of some sort. The possible consequences of a felony DUI conviction can include heavy fines, court penalties, long jail sentences, and more.
Consequences Following a Felony DUI Conviction
Above and beyond the immediate legal penalties resulting from a felony DUI conviction, other consequences will follow as well. These include:
- Loss of Civil Rights – You may lose your right to vote or run for office if you are convicted of a felony.
- Loss of Credibility – As a convicted felon you may not be allowed to serve on a jury or even act as a witness in court.
- Loss of Right to Own a Firearm – California law states that anyone convicted of a felony is prohibited from owning firearms.
- Loss of Professional License/Career – Many professions do not allow employment of or licensing (or license renewal) to anyone convicted of a felony. These professions include doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, the military, insurance agents, and those working for the state or federal government.
Experienced Santa Clara DUI attorneys can sometimes negotiate plea bargains for clients who are facing felony DUI charges, often reducing those charges to a misdemeanor.
If you have prior convictions and are facing a DUI charge, you need a highly-skilled and experienced defense attorney to represent you. At the Santa Clara DUI law firm, we offer case reviews online. Get in touch with us today to talk about your legal options.