Understanding A Misdemeanor From A Felony DUI In California


In California, a DUI can be considered a wobbler offense. This means that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation. There are many intricacies when deciding between misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI charges in California.

What Is a Misdemeanor DUI in California?

Misdemeanor DUI charges commonly occur when a defendant is suspected of being intoxicated after a routine traffic stop. A person can have as many as four DUI convictions within a 10-year period before facing felony DUI charges. However, a DUI charge can be upgraded to a felony if someone is injured or killed as a result of the DUI.

Types of Felony DUI in California

Felony charges may require proving negligence and causation, as well as intoxication. Felony convictions result in mandatory prison sentences and hefty fines. There are several types of felony DUI charges involving injury or death. These charges include:

  • DUI Causing Injury;
  • Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated;
  • Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated; and
  • DUI Second Degree Murder, which involves intended malice.

DUI Causing Injury and Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

Determining Fault in a DUI Accident

A person can be convicted on DUI charges but not be held responsible for a person’s injury or death during the incident. When charging someone with DUI involving injury or death, the prosecution must prove that:

  • The suspect was legally intoxicated while operating the vehicle;
  • The suspect violated a traffic law or acted negligently; and
  • Said violation or negligence caused the injury or death.

DUI Defenses

Proving that a driver was intoxicated does not automatically mean that he or she caused the accident. A defendant can argue that:

  • The victim was negligent;
  • Another party was responsible; or
  • Adverse road conditions made the accident unavoidable.

Need a DUI Lawyer in San Jose, CA?

It is more common for DUI incidents involving injury or death to result in felony charges. A San Jose DUI attorney at the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich can examine your case to determine your best course for defense. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (408) 898-9770 or fill out our online contact form.

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