California and DUIs
If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI your charges will result in either a misdemeanor DUI charge or a felony DUI charge. Every year, countless California drivers are arrested for DUI or driving under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, a DUI arrest is an extremely serious charge levying a number severe criminal penalties on California citizens if they find themselves convicted of the offense. In fact, California DUI penalties are some of the most serious in the entire country. Like how it is in every other state, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
Any person caught driving with a BAC above 0.08% can be legally considered impaired—regardless of how he or she feels. State law also states that it is illegal for underage motorists (those under 21) to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system, since it is against the law to have any alcohol in your system if you are under 21.
The majority of those arrested for DUI will be facing a misdemeanor charge. That means, if convicted: several years of informal probation, base fines and penalty assessments, attendance in DUI classes, and a license suspension.
A drunk driver who is involved in an accident that results in the injury or death of another, or who is arrested for their fourth DUI in ten years, is usually charged with a felony. The way the law is written today, in the case of drunk driving a person can be charged with a felony after their third DUI misdemeanor, even if there is no property damage or injury.
Being Charged with Felony DUI?
If you are charged with a DUI felony offense, you will be facing extremely serious consequences. Under state law, any driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered legally intoxicated and can be arrested for drunk driving, but you can also be charged with DUI if you refuse to allow an officer to administer a breathalyzer or other chemical test. You are more likely to be charged with felony DUI if you are a repeat offender (more than one DUI arrest) or were involved in a serious auto accident. In California, the courts review three important factors before treating your DUI as a felony:
- The driver must commit a traffic violation (speeding, running a red light)
- An injury to a third party (whether in the driver’s vehicle or other)
- The injury must have been caused by the driver’s negligence
In addition to the above, in some States it is common practice to elevate a drunk driving charge to a felony if a chemical test reveals that the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeded a certain elevated level set by law. Not every state practices this, but generally there are worse penalties imposed for driver’s found with higher blood alcohol content.
For example: A driver arrested for DUI with a BAC of .09% may receive less fines and alcohol classes than a driver arrested with a BAC of .16% or higher.
DUI Defense in Orange County
If you are charged with DUI in Orange County, the first thing you need to do is contact the right DUI Attorney. As mentioned, a felony conviction will lead to far worse penalties than a misdemeanor including, but not limited to, a minimum 180-day jail sentence, four year license suspension, and a $3,000 fine.
You will also have to face the consequences of having a felony conviction on your criminal record, which can affect multiple opportunities for you in the future. The Law Offices of Chad Maddox specializes in DUI defense for all of Orange County and has successfully defended felony DUI cases.
We have been exclusively practicing DUI and DMV law for over 15 years and can help you defend your rights in a felony DUI case. Please call our offices now.