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What raises a DUI to a felony DUI?

Every crime has varying degrees of severity. When it comes to driving under the influence, there is a big difference in a DUI and a felony DUI. According to California law, what raises a standard DUI charge to felony level status?

Driving under the influence is a crime that numerous people have committed in their lifetime, though, many do not get caught. Police officers cannot be everywhere at all times. If an officer pulls you over for suspected DUI, you may wonder what that means for you if you end up being charged and ultimately convicted. At the end of the day, how you are charged all depends on a few things: the circumstances surrounding your arrest, your level of intoxication and your criminal record.

Traffic stop

You were in your car after a nice night out with your significant other. You were almost home when an officer pulled you over. You complied with field sobriety and chemical tests and then found yourself under arrest after your breath test came back at just over the legal limit. You did not hurt anyone and you do not have any prior DUIs on your record. This would be an example of a standard DUI — a misdemeanor.

Accident

You were driving home from the bar. Officers say you were speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. You allegedly caused an accident that injured another person. Breathalyzer and blood tests show a level of impairment nearly two times the legal limit. You've never had a DUI before, but the severity of the event is enough to raise the DUI to felony level status.

Repeat offender

Repeat offenders, those with three of more DUIs on record are likely to face felony charges. It does not matter if they hurt anyone. It does not matter if they are pulled over during a routine traffic stop or if they garner a DUI charge following an accident. Repeat offenders are likely to face jail or prison time and lose their driving privileges.

Consequences

The consequences for a standard DUI may include fines, temporary loss of driving privileges or a short jail sentence. Diversion programs may be available to first-time offenders so they receive treatment rather than punishment. The consequences for a felony DUI are far more severe and may include imprisonment, hefty fines and permanent loss of driving privileges.

Fight the good fight

Fighting any level of DUI charge can be a challenge, but felony DUIs are particularly difficult. This does not mean that you have to sit back and take whatever punishment the court is ready to push on you. With legal assistance, you can do everything possible to protect yourself and your future interests by taking the steps necessary to fight the charges against you.

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