The vast majority of DUI cases in California and likewise in San Luis Obispo are misdemeanor cases. Your typical DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor by the San Luis Obispo district attorney. The significance of the misdemeanor label is that it means the charge is punishable by county jail only, not state prison.
There are a few different ways that DUI’s can be be charged as felonies including the following:
The Felony DUI with Injuries
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23153 it is a felony to be arrested for DUI where the DUI caused an injury. Section 23153 makes no requirement as to the extent of the injury, it merely states that an injury caused by a DUI will trigger a felony violation of 23153, so technically ANY injury will suffice. Thus, even a minor fender bender accident in which the driver of the other vehicle sustains minor injuries, could trigger the filing of felony DUI charges. Likewise, Section 23153 requires only that the injured party cannot be the driver who was allegedly Driving under the influence (the defendant), so even an injury to a passenger who is friendly to the defendant, but who is nevertheless injured, can trigger a felony DUI.
Being Charged with a DUI After a Prior Felony DUI
Another way that DUI cases can become is misdemeanors is in the case where an individual is charged with a DUI after they have previously been convicted of a felony DUI in the past 10 years. For example, Suppose an individual was convicted of a felony DUI with injuries in 2010. Then suppose they are charged with a simple DUI without injuries or complications of any kind in 2013, which would have been a misdemeanor, but for the previous felony DUI conviction, this new DUI will be charged as a felony as well. In this case,the defendant will be in jeopardy of being sent to state prison, even though the incident was a standard and basic DUI.
The Fourth DUI Felony
California vehicle codes section 23550 makes it a felony to be Caught driving while under the influence when you have been convicted 3 separate times within the past 10 years. The SLO District Attorney normally files these cases as felonies and seeks punishment with a 16 month term in state prison.
Any combination of DUI convictions all occurring within a 10 year span will trigger the fourth DUI being charges as a felony. The time is based on the date of the offense, not the date of the conviction.
Felony DUI Cases in San Luis Obispo- We Can Help! (805) 621-7181
If you were involved in a DUI with injuries, or you believe a new DUI charge may be your 4th in the past 10 years, call us immediately fro a free case evaluation. We are ready and willing to help you.