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Is a DUI a Felony in California? (2023)


Being issued a DUI is treated with the utmost seriousness in California. Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can often lead to accidents causing serious injury or death. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may be feeling uncertain about your future and how this charge could affect your family, work, finances, etc.

In most cases, a DUI is tried as a misdemeanor, but under certain circumstances, a DUI can be tried as a felony offense. It is important to understand how and when a DUI can be considered a felony and why having an experienced criminal law attorney can dramatically improve your chances of reducing or acquitting your sentence.

When Is a DUI a Felony?

Driving under the influence is considered a misdemeanor charge unless there are certain aggravating factors that are met. To be considered a felony offense, one or more of the following conditions must be met:

  1. The driver was under the influence, and their reckless behavior led to the death or injury of another individual. If another person has been injured or killed due to a driver under the influence, the court will determine if the person responsible will be given a felony charge based on the unique details of the case and the criminal history of the defendant.
  2. The driver has previously received a DUI felony conviction within the last ten years. If the driver has already received a DUI felony conviction, then they will automatically receive another DUI conviction if caught driving under the influence again, no matter the circumstances of the new case.
  3. The driver has received, within a ten-year time frame, three previous DUI offenses. The court is less lenient on repeat offenders. Every time you are charged with a DUI, the penalties are likely to become more severe.

Is a DUI a Felony in California

What Are the Penalties for a Felony Conviction?

Individuals who are convicted of a DUI felony charge will face a lifetime of consequences. The state will now consider them felons, meaning that they will not be able to purchase firearms.

Additionally, this conviction will stay on your record for ten years, meaning that if you are caught driving under the influence again within this time period, you will automatically receive another felony charge as well as even more serious consequences.

Some other penalties for receiving a DUI conviction are:

  • High court fines
  • Suspension and other restrictions on your driver’s license
  • Years in prison
  • Required time in a DUI education system

DUI Defense Lawyer

The first thing that may enter your head if charged with a DUI is fear. A DUI conviction can bring serious, life-altering penalties. It can make it difficult for you to find a job or buy a home. You may suffer a license suspension and an inability to get to work or to pick up your children from school, but a DUI defense lawyer can help to minimize your sentence and get your side of the story shown in court.

Even if you have failed a breathalyzer test, there is still hope. Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate and do not stand as concrete evidence that you were, in fact, under the influence. An experienced DUI defense attorney will navigate the unique details of your case and help to reduce your sentence in whatever way we can.

Although you may be worried about the price of a private DUI defense lawyer, having an experienced individual who is knowledgeable about the court and who deals with cases similar to yours regularly is your best chance at getting proper representation and saving yourself possible years of jail time or thousands of dollars in fees.


Q: Are DUIs Felonies in California?

A: DUIs are considered misdemeanors in California unless certain aggravating factors are met. If the driver has received a felony conviction for a DUI within the last ten years, has received three or more DUI offenses in the last ten years, or has caused injury or death to another driver, then the court will most likely consider the charge to be a felony conviction.

Q: What Is the New DUI Law in California?

A: Previously, a DUI felony conviction stayed on a person’s record for a lifetime, but with this new 2023 modification, a DUI felony conviction will only stay on someone’s record for ten years. This means that if a person received a DUI felony conviction 30 years ago and then is caught driving under the influence again, this person will not automatically be given another felony conviction.

Q: When Did a DUI Become a Felony in California?

A: In 1935, California first started considering DUIs a felony charge under certain circumstances. When an individual was injured or killed by a driver under the influence, the driver was given a felony charge for their actions. Since 1935, most DUI charges are still considered misdemeanors, but there are a few aggravating factors that create felony convictions.

Q: Is a DUI in California a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

A: A DUI can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony charge. If there are no aggravating factors present, a person caught driving under the influence would be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if another individual was injured or killed due to the driver being under the influence, if the driver has received a previous DUI felony conviction within the last ten years, or if the driver has received three prior DUI offenses within the last ten years, then the driver is subject to receive a felony charge.

Superior Defense

At the Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman, we understand how important proper representation is for your future. We will give your case the time and effort it deserves to help you in whatever way we can. We understand each of our clients is unique and have unique circumstances underlying their case. If you have been charged with a DUI and are worried about what is in store for your future, do not wait another day to contact us and let us take on the dirty work for you.

The post Is a DUI a Felony in California? (2023) appeared first on The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman.

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