The most common way for DUI to be a felony in California is for there to be an injury. The prosecutor’s decision whether to charge a DUI with injury as a felony or a misdemeanor is based on several factors. That’s why you need strong legal representation.
To be an injury under California Vehicle Code Section 23153 it is not necessary that any medical treatment was received or that the victim was off work. Even slight injury is sufficient evidence of injury. But it must be more than a mere “shaking up.”
Bodily injury means what is says, harm or hurt to the body. Beware: Courts find enough evidence for bodily injury for felony DUI based on claims of pain by victims even when there has been no objective medical evidence.
You must get a really good defense attorney because there may be more than one cause of injury. The law says an act causes bodily injury to another person only if it is a substantial factor in causing the injury. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the injury.
Great Bodily Injury
California Penal Code Section 12022.7 says you can’t inflict or cause great bodily injury on a person other than an accomplice during the course of a felony or an attempted felony. The definition of great bodily injury is: “a significant or substantial physical injury.”
Felony DUI: Prior Convictions
Vehicle Code 23550.5 makes any drunk driving offense punishable as a felony IF you have one (or more) separate violations of drunk driving or vehicular manslaughter within 10 years that resulted in a felony conviction.
If you have three (or more) prior DUI convictions, your 4th DUI within 10 years is punishable as a felony under Vehicle Code 23550.
Punishments for Felony DUI
Defense attorneys file statements in mitigation if you have been convicted of Felony DUI. This statement says why probation should be granted and why the court should sentence you to the lower prison term, if probation isn’t granted.
If you are placed on probation, you can still be sent to county jail, ordered to pay fines and fees, do DUI Programs, pay restitution among other terms and conditions. The DMV will also suspend your driver’s license.
Punishment for GBI
There are specific laws for infliction of great bodily injury on the young and the old. For example, if you personally caused GBI on a person who is 70 years of age or older, in the commission of a felony or attempted felony, you will be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for 5 years.
If you are convicted personally inflicting great bodily injury, that offense is generally both a serious felony and a violent felony. This means the offense is a “strike prior.”
If you have been charged, arrested for DUI with injury or Felony DUI, Contact The Law Office of Richard Wagner 714-721-4423 Free Consultation