Is Driving Under the Influence a Felony?

By: Timothy McFarlin | Published: September 10th, 2009 | Category: Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

The most commonly charged crime in California is driving under the influence (DUI). As the crackdown on drunk driving continues; prosecutors, legislators, and the California courts are increasingly looking toward the expansion of enforcement and the Los Angeles driver’s criminal and civil liability.
Recently, the punishment has been drastically increased by interpreting the conduct as fitting a more serious type of crime: felony drunk driving.
Because it can be treated as a felony (when the drunk driving results in an injury to another party where there is “bodily injury” or “substantial bodily harm”), it is punishable by incarceration for at least one year in state prison.
If you are convicted, in addition to this punishment, DUI expenses are very high and still continuing to increase. You can expect fines, costs, license reinstatement fees, and higher automobile insurance (even years after your license is reinstated). You may also have to pay for alcohol counseling and probation fees. Studies have found that the average DUI can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.
This is why, between the costs and the possibility of being convicted of a felony, it is critical to consult with DUI lawyers before committing to any plea or arrangement with the District Attorney (“DA”).
There are many critical, small details in determining if the accident really can be defined as a felony. The McFarlin LLP Criminal Investigations and Defense Practice include a group of DUI lawyers that focus on just these kinds of issues.

The following are three further elements that have been added to the statutory requirements:

1. Violation of a statute: the violation must consist of another traffic offense such as running a traffic light, speeding, or reckless driving.
2. Bodily Injury: the bodily injury must be caused by the violation of the statute.
3. Proximate Causation: the source of causation must be from the violation.
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