Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs has been a problem ever
since automobiles became so affordable, virtually every household had
one, if not two vehicles parked in the driveway. Before automobiles were
invented, drinking wasn’t usually that dangerous to anyone but the
drinker themselves. However, now that people are driving drunk behind
thousands of pounds of machinery, drinking and driving are deadly combinations
that claim thousands of lives every year.
In California and across the United States, a driver is considered to be
impaired by alcohol when their
blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08% or greater. So, when a crash involves a driver with
a BAC of .08% or higher, it is said to be an alcohol-impaired crash, and
any fatalities involved in such crashes are recorded as alcohol-impaired-driving
fatalities by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to the NHTSA, in 2013, there were 10,076 fatalities involving
drunk drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher, accounting for 31% of the
total traffic fatalities in that same year.
DUI is a ‘Wobbler’ in California
Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both under Vehicle Code
23152(a), and driving with a BAC over .08% under Vehicle Code 23152(b)
are considered misdemeanor offenses.
A DUI offense becomes a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged
as a misdemeanor or a
felony, when someone else has been
injured or killed as a result of the impaired driving incident. Further, if an impaired
driver causes a fatal accident, they can also be charged with second degree murder.
If a driver has prior DUI convictions, the DUI can be charged as a felony.
For example, if a driver has
three other DUI convictions or a “wet reckless” in the previous
10 years, the fourth DUI can be charged as a felony. Also, any new DUI within
ten years of a
previous felony DUI can be charged as a felony.
Note: If you have a “wet reckless” it’s important to understand
that it is still priorable and will be treated as a prior DUI for the
purpose of DUI enhancements.
In a nutshell, a DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. However,
if this is your
first offense and there was no
accident and no one was injured, then it’s likely a misdemeanor.
If you, or someone you love has been charged with DUI in Orange County,
contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to discuss the
DMV and criminal aspects of your case.