If you are arrested for a DUI in California, it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Which charge you face will have a big impact on the consequences you face. Keep reading to find out what factors influence the type of charge, then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 to request a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
The Basic Rules of Misdemeanors vs Felonies
Generally speaking, if you are arrested for driving under the influence and it is your first, second, or third DUI within a decade, no one was injured, and you do not have a felony DUI conviction at any point in the past, then it is likely you will be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Of course, the prosecution has some leeway when deciding how to charge you – but your criminal defense attorney can negotiate to have the charges reduced in many cases.
Potential Consequences for a Misdemeanor DUI Conviction
If you are convicted of a charge of misdemeanor DUI, you could face three to five years of probation, a year in jail, home detention or work release, required drug and alcohol education classes, driver’s license suspension, required installation of an interlock ignition device, and fines and fees that could be as much as several thousand dollars.
There are situations that can increase the penalties for a misdemeanor DUI conviction including a driver who would not agree to take a chemical test, a driver with a BAC of more than .15%, a driver who was going more than 30 miles above the speed limit on a freeway or 20 miles above the speed limit on highways or city streets, and a driver who had a passenger 14 years old or younger in the vehicle.
Potential Consequences of Felony DUI
You can be charged with a felony DUI charge if it is your fourth DUI within a decade, someone besides you were injured, or you have been convicted of a felony DUI in the past. Note that injuring some can be as simple as causing a muscle strain. Punishments for felony DUI convictions include as long as three years in prison, alcohol and drug education classes, driver’s license suspension, and fines and fees.
Do You Know What to Do if You Are Charged with a DUI?
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI you are likely panicking. What do you do? Should you plead guilty and move on? No – you should contact a criminal defense attorney who can assure you are moving forward with the best possible chance of a positive resolution. You can contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell now at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.