Orange County Felony DUI Attorney
Is One DUI Worse than Another?
In the state of California, there are certain factors that can be part of a DUI charge that make punishment following conviction more severe than in some other DUI cases. These are referred to as "special factors" and act as aggravators in a DUI case. The exact nature of these factors depends on each individual case, though they are typically designated to punish repeat offenders more severely, as well as those who are seen as endangering others.
What Is a Felony DUI?
There are certain factors that can turn a DUI into a felony, at which point harsher penalties come into play. In California, for example, a fourth DUI offense within 10 years becomes a felony and has much more severe consequences than the previous three offenses. If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony DUI, it is vital that you contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney to represent you. Call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or Toll Free (888) 478-8999 today to discuss your case and talk about your options.
What Are Special Factors that Support a Harsher Punishment?
Most of the factors that aggravate a DUI charge involve minors or excessive speed and drinking, all of which make a DUI charge more severe in the eyes of the state. While the specifics of each case can vary, in general these are the factors that usually aggravate a DUI charge in California:
- Excessive Blood Alcohol Level - In California, a DUI charge relies upon a driver's blood alcohol content or BAC. A BAC level above 0.8% is generally considered high enough for a DUI. According to Vehicle Code 23578, however, if a person has a concentration of alcohol at 0.15% or higher, then they may face a more severe DUI charge.
- Refusal to Take a Chemical Test - Vehicle Code 23578 also establishes refusal to take a chemical test to determine BAC as grounds for a harsher charge and more severe penalties if convicted.
- Multiple Victim Enhanced Sentence - In a situation where more than one person is injured due to a DUI incident, an additional year can be added to a person's sentence for each victim beyond the first. Up to three years can be added through this enhanced sentence, according to Vehicle Code 23558.
- Minor Passenger Enhanced Sentence - According to Vehicle Code 23572, having a passenger in the vehicle at the time of a DUI offense can enhance the charge and penalties applied following conviction. The presence of a minor can add up to 90 days in jail to a punishment following conviction, assuming the minor was not injured.
- Excessive Speed Enhanced Sentence - A DUI conviction in which a person drove a vehicle more than 30 mph on a freeway or 20 mph on a street can impose a stricter punishment. California Vehicle Code 23582 allows for an extra 60 days in jail as punishment to enhance whatever sentence is already imposed.
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Perhaps the most serious felony DUI is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, as defined by California Penal Code 191.5. There are two types: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which occurs during the commission of an unlawful act that is not a felony and involves gross negligence, or a lawful act that might result in death, involving gross negligence; and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which occurs during the commission of an unlawful act that is not a felony and does not involve gross negligence, or a lawful act that might result in death but without gross negligence.
In other words, gross vehicular manslaughter involves gross negligence, while vehicular manslaughter does not, and either can involve the commission of a crime that is less than a felony. Gross negligence occurs when someone acts in a way that is reckless and creates a high risk of death or serious injury and a reasonable person should know that such action would create a serious risk. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony; as a misdemeanor it carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in county jail, and as a felony it can result in 16 months, two years, or four years in prison. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, however, is a felony that results in either four, six, or ten years imprisonment.
Felony DUI Is a Serious Charge
If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony DUI, or you are worried about a DUI being enhanced due to other factors, then you need an experienced OC criminal defense lawyer to protect you. Call us today at the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or Toll Free (888) 478-8999 to go over the facts of your case.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.