California enforces some of the harshest felony driving under influence laws and penalties in the nation. In California, even with no prior DUI record, a “Watson murder,” or “implied malice” murder can be charged if a person drives recklessly and causes the death of another while under the influence. When no fatality occurs, a felony driving under influence charge – typically a misdemeanor in California – can be upgraded to a felony in several ways. For example, a fourth (or subsequent) DUI within a 10-year period will be prosecuted as a felony. “Wet reckless” and out-of-state convictions are considered prior DUIs for this purpose.
If you’ve ever been previously convicted of a felony driving under influence, any subsequent DUI in California will also be charged as a felony, even if the current felony driving under influence involves no aggravating circumstances and is not a typical felony-level violation. DUIs that end with a fatality will lead to the most serious charges; depending on the case, the charge can be felony driving under influence vehicular manslaughter or DUI second-degree murder. California also levels serious charges against drivers who cause a serious injury while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Depending on the severity of the injury, a driver can be prosecuted for a felony under California’s “Three Strikes” law if “great bodily injury” is alleged.
With the right strategy and an experienced California felony driving under influence defense attorney dedicated to your case, an accused driver can change the odds in his or her favor. If you’re charged with felony driving under influence in California – even if it’s only a first offense or misdemeanor – obtain the services of a good DUI defense lawyer immediately. Blood tests and eyewitness testimony can often be discredited by the right felony driving under influence attorney. An experienced DUI defense attorney will work to have your charge reduced or dismissed, and if necessary, to win your acquittal at trial. When you’re charged with DUI, time is of the essence; your attorney will need as much time as possible to develop and prepare your defense, so call without delay.