When is DWI a Felony in California?

You’re driving home from an outing with friends, when all of a sudden, you see the blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. At this point, if you were enjoying alcoholic beverages at the outing, you might be asking yourself whether you might be at risk of arrest or facing any potential charges for driving while intoxicated

Many people believe that drunk driving is a minor charge, as most people know someone who has faced this type of misdemeanor charge in California. The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction can still impact your life in many ways, so you should take any DWI charge seriously.

Also, did you know that some DWI charges can be felony offenses? This makes the matter significantly more serious, so you should not wait to reach out to a Riverside, CA, DWI attorney at DeLimon Law. 

Factors that Can Increase DWI Charges

In most situations, those arrested for driving under the influence will face misdemeanor charges. These are still serious matters, as a misdemeanor can mean jail time, license suspension, and fines if convicted, among other possible penalties. You want a qualified defense lawyer for your misdemeanor DWI charge. 

There are factors set out in California law that can escalate a misdemeanor DWI case to the felony level. These include:

  1. The defendant has had three previous DWI convictions in the past ten years.
  2. The DUI involved an accident causing injuries to others (this can be either a misdemeanor or felony, which is known as a “wobbler”).
  3. The DUI involved a fatal accident, which can be charged as the felony offense of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
  4. The defendant has a previous felony DWI conviction.

In these cases, your case can be heard as a felony offense instead of a misdemeanor. 

Penalties for Felony DWI

The penalties for felony drunk driving convictions are significantly more serious than misdemeanor penalties. While the consequences can vary depending on the specific allegations of your offense, they might include:

  1. Multiple years in state prison
  2. Thousands of dollars in fines
  3. Loss of your driver’s license for many years
  4. Restitution to any victims or surviving family members
  5. Substance abuse treatment

These penalties can impact your finances and freedom for years to come, and you can be disqualified from any jobs that require driving as part of the job duties. 

There are ways to defend against felony DWI, including challenging any aggravating factors to get the charges reduced to the misdemeanor level when possible. It is important to fight for your future with the help of an attorney who takes on felony DWI cases. 

Connect with a Riverside, CA DWI Attorney to Discuss Your Case Now

If you learn that you are facing any type of DWI charge – especially felony DWI – you need help from a Riverside, CA, DWI lawyer as soon as possible. We can review the circumstances of your arrest and begin building the strongest possible defense for your case. To learn more about how we can help in your case, contact DeLimon Law to schedule a consultation today.

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