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Information FAQs

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Is a DUI a felony in California?

A DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The most common way for a DUI to be a felony in California is if you cause an injury to someone else. The prosecutor's decision whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony offense for a DUI causing an injury is based on several factors.

Other ways your DUI can be a felony in California:

  • if you have one (or more) felony DUIs within 10 years, or
  • if you have three (or more) prior DUIs: your 4th DUI within 10 years is a felony. 

Read more about DUI Causing Injury - Misdemeanor or Felony

What are the types of crimes in California?


An infraction is a minor violation. Many traffic violations are infractions. The punishment for infractions is usually fine.


A misdemeanor is a crime with a maximum punishment of either 6 months or 364 days in county jail, and/or a fine from $1,000 to $10,000. Some examples are assault, battery, driving on a suspended license, trespass, drunk in public, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, petty theft, prostitution, shoplifting, solicitation of prostitution, vandalism, violation of a protective order, and DUI.


A felony is the most serious kind of crime. California also has a list of serious felonies and violent felonies. If found guilty, you can be sent to the county jail and/or state prison. Some examples are arson, assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer, carjacking, extortion, embezzlement, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, kidnapping, robbery or bank robbery, murder, voluntary manslaughter, lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age, mayhem, rape, oral copulation, sexual penetration, DUI Causing injury and DUI with 3 prior offenses within 10 years.


A wobbler is a crime that may be punished as either a misdemeanor or felony. Some examples are assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, theft, spousal battery, domestic violence cases, burglary, drug cases, and DUI causing injury.

What is an SR-22?

The usual way of showing proof of financial responsibility is to provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (form SR-22) from an insurance company.

What is bail, and how is it set in California court?

The amount of bail is set by a bail schedule in each county. If you fail to appear in court, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. If you cannot post bail, you will be kept in custody. In some cases, instead of paying bail, you could be released on your own recognizance or “O.R.” Your DUI criminal defense lawyer can make a motion for bail reduction or bail review in court. Read more about Bail in California

What happens at my arraignment in California court?

You learn what charges the prosecutor has filed against you. You may enter a plea to the criminal charges filed against you. If you have been arrested, you have the right to be arraigned on any charges usually within two court days. At the arraignment, you can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty, or waive time to enter a plea. Plea negotiations can also take place at the arraignment. What is An Arraignment in California? Read about Plea deals in California

If my driver's license gets suspended because of a DUI, can I get a restricted license?

There are two types of restricted licenses currently. There is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) restricted license. The IID-restricted license does not require you to serve any suspension or revocation period. There is also the work/DUI program restricted license. This type allows you to drive to and from work, during the course of your work, and to and from activities required in the driving-under-the-influence program. Read more about Restricted Licenses After DUIs

Can you get a DUI for weed?

Although weed seems to be legal now, it is still against the law to drive under the influence of a drug including THC. However, just because the cops arrested you for a weed DUI and the prosecutors charge you for it, does not mean you will be convicted. Everyone knows that THC can be detected in your blood for up to 30 days. Read more about Defending Marijuana DUIs

How Long Is A DUI On My Record?

In California, prosecutors and the DMV can look back 10 years to see if there is a DUI conviction on your driving record to automatically increase your punishment.

How is the 10-year period for DUI convictions measured?

The 10-year period is measured from the date of violation/offense, not from the date of conviction.1

For example, you were arrested for a first DUI on September 1, 2008, but you went to court and eventually pleaded guilty or no contest on January 1, 2009. If you get another DUI 10 years from the date of offense (September 1, 2008), you will be charged with a DUI and also with a sentence enhancement that accuses you of having a prior DUI. 

DUI convictions stay on your record for more than 10 years. It is common for prosecutors to use DUI convictions older than 10 years to argue for increased punishment and to set bail.

For commercial license holders, there is no limit to how far back the DMV or the court can look back to see when you got a prior DUI or DUI license suspension to disqualify you from operating a commercial vehicle.

What Is The Difference Between A DUI & DWI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination. A DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” Some states use DWI. In California, we refer to it as a DUI. But, essentially, it is the same thing.

For help with your criminal case or DUI, call 714-721-4423 or fill out the form to contact The Law Office of Richard Wagner, A Professional Corporation for a Free Consultation.


1 The 10-year look-back period is measured from offense date to offense date. It does not matter when you were convicted. The support for this is the plain language of the statutes. California Vehicle Code Section 23540 Second Offense, says, "If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, that resulted in a conviction, that person shall be punished ..." Similarly, California Vehicle Code Section 23546 Third Offense uses the identical language, "If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished..."