With the recent case of the Nevada man charged with felony DUI, many folks ask: when does a DUI become a felony in the state of California? There are a number of ways that a drunk driving charge can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. First of all, most standard first time DWI offenses in the state are considered misdemeanors, VC 23152 of the state code specifies that all DUI charges are misdemeanors unless they meet certain criteria.
One way that a driving under the influence can be a felony is if someone other than the offender himself is injured. According to one Manhattan Beach DUI Attorney, if a person sustains a substantial injury that is caused as a result of the DUI driver violating the vehicle code, such as speeding, failure to stop at a red light or other infraction, and the offender is determined to be under the influence of alcohol or a drug or both then the crime becomes a felony which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 3 years.
Another way a DUI can be a felony is when the violator has been convicted of 3 or more DUI cases in the last 10 years prior to the last charge. More on this crime in a later post.