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Are DUI Accidents Always Felonies?

If you’re a licensed driver in California, you’re probably well-aware of the fact that it’s against the law to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%, but beyond that – you might not know much else about driving under the influence (DUI).

“Is a DUI accident an automatic felony? Can I be charged with DUI if I’m in an accident that I didn’t cause?” We hear these questions all the time, and we’re going to answer them in this post. Specifically, we’re going to dig deeper into DUI accidents and whether they are all felonies in California.

For starters, you can be involved in a car accident that you did not cause and still be arrested and charged with DUI. For example, if you’re driving down a main road and another driver runs a red light and plows into the side of your vehicle, when the police arrive on the scene, they can arrest you for DUI if they discover that you had been drinking alcohol. Even if you’re not at-fault for an accident, you can still face DUI charges.

DUI Accidents Are Wobblers in California

DUI accidents are considered “wobblers” in California. This means that a DUI accident can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. When is a DUI crash prosecuted as a felony? It comes down to three factors: 1) your criminal record history, 2) the severity of the injuries, and 3) if it was a property damage only crash. Let us explain this further:

  • If this was your fourth DUI in 10 years, it would be prosecuted as a felony, even if no one was hurt. This is because a fourth DUI in 10 years is an automatic felony.
  • If the accident was property damage only and it is not your DUI fourth offense, it should be prosecuted as a misdemeanor DUI.
  • If you caused serious bodily injury or death to someone else, it would be prosecuted as a felony DUI. If you caused minor injuries, it could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony; it depends on the facts of the case.

We hope this information answers your questions about DUI accidents in Orange County and throughout California. If you’re facing DUI charges in OC, don’t hesitate to contact our firm to work with Attorney Landry, a board-certified specialist in DUI defense!