What Constitutes a Felony DUI in California?

hands on steering wheel Felony DUI

The crime of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in a felony DUI if the driver has multiple DUI convictions or causes bodily injury or death. Some specific examples of an incident that could be charged with felony DUI are:

The driver has previously been convicted of a felony DUI
DUI caused someone other than the driver to be killed or injured
In a 10-year period, the driver has had three or more DUI convictions


Felony DUI or Misdemeanor – The “Wobbler” Case

You might hear a drunk driving case called a “wobbler” case when the incident could be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony (wobbling between them). Basically, most DUI cases are classified as misdemeanors, though any such case could be classified as a felony if certain criteria are met.

In California it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. This number goes down to 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.01% for those under the age of 21. Weight, gender, food consumption, type of alcohol, medications, fatigue, and the number of drinks consumed can all be factors in someone’s blood alcohol level.

If someone drives a vehicle with a blood alcohol level well above the maximum limit, has repeated convictions, injured or killed someone in the DUI-related car wreck, the “misdemeanor” charge can easily wobble over into a “felony” conviction.


DUI Penalties

Penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol vary based on the amount of harm resulting from the incident. Consequences are also related to previous convictions and how much the person’s blood alcohol level was over the lawful limit.


Possible Sentences for a DUI Causing Bodily Harm

If a DUI causes physical harm to another person, possible sentences include but are not
limited to:

  • 16 months – 16 years in a state prison
  • $5,000 worth in fines
  • 30 months of DUI school
  • Mandatory suspension of driver’s license for up to five years

Possible Sentences for a DUI Causing Death

This is the most serious DUI felony charge in California and is also called “gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.” If the accused is found to have acted with “ordinary” negligence rather than “egregious” or “gross” negligence a different term will be used. These are all decisions for which the court will make conclusions.

This charge carries the heaviest sentence including over a decade of jail time and hefty fines, but each person’s outcome depends upon the specifics of the case.


Possible Sentences for a DUI After Multiple Convictions

If a driver has had multiple DUI convictions they can receive:

  • A maximum of three years in state prison
  • A $1,000 fine
  • 30 months of DUI school
  • Mandatory suspension of driver’s license for up to five years

Additional Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Besides jail time, DUI classes, fines, and losing one’s license to drive, other consequences can also be handed down for a felony DUI conviction. Examples include:

  • Loss of voting privileges
  • Inability to hold a public office
  • Inability to own a firearm
  • Probation
  • Increased automotive insurance rates
  • Loss of a driving-related career
  • Difficulty securing a new job

The negative mark of a DUI on a background check (whether felony or misdemeanor) can often result in being passed over for a job. Additionally, no one in their right mind looks forward to admitting this kind of conviction to family or friends.


How to Post Bail for a Felony DUI

Typically people convicted of felony DUIs are still able to post bail and should call Frank Calabretta’s Bail Bonds immediately at (530) 823-8340. It’s critical to obtain advice from a bondsman and legal counsel right away in these circumstances. We can help you get released from jail to start working on handling these matters immediately.

Our professional, experienced bail bond agents at Frank Calabretta’s Bail Bonds are not only quick to act in your best interest, we are compassionate and treat all of our clients with dignity and respect. We are available for bail bonds 24 / 7, every single day of the year, even holidays!


Dependable Bail Bond Agents

It’s important to know the legal and financial implications of signing for a bail bond. This is why our experienced bail bond agents at Frank Calabretta’s Bail House are happy to answer all of your bail bond questions. Call us anytime at (530) 823-8340 to get started with your bail bond right away. We are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year and can process the transaction over the phone using any major credit card.

Frank Calabretta’s Bail House is proud to be the oldest bail bonds company in Placer County. Providing quality service for over 40 years, dozens of community members have posted 5-star reviews online. When you or your loved one needs to be released from jail fast, call Frank Calabretta’s Bail House! We serve local residents in Placer County, Nevada County, Sacramento County, El Dorado County, California, as well as those located Nationwide! 

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