While most people know that a California DUI is a serious charge that can mean fines, license suspension, DUI School, probation, incarceration, community service, and the loss of the Good Driver Discount, many are confused about the various levels of a DUI.
Is a DUI a misdemeanor or a felony? A California DUI is known as a “wobbler offense,” which means it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. A felony DUI is most commonly seen when the defendant:
- Has three prior DUI or “wet reckless” convictions within 10-years,
- Has a prior felony DUI conviction, or
- The drunk or drugged driver injured or killed someone else.
In the absence of the above circumstances, most simple DUIs are misdemeanors, including DUI accidents that involve property damage, but not serious injuries.
EVIDENCE IN A DUI CASE
With DUI cases, there are several factors that come into play, which are very different than other criminal cases that are strictly dealing with violating the law. A DUI case is built on many different pieces of evidence, such as:
- The officer’s reason for the traffic stop.
- The suspect’s behavior during the stop.
- Any footage from the officer’s body camera or dash cam.
- Field sobriety testing evidence.
- Chemical test evidence (blood, breath, or urine test).
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration.
- Evidence that the driver was too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Are Criminal Defense Attorneys Created Equal?
When you’re arrested for DUI, not just any criminal defense attorney will do. This is because DUI cases are more complex than others. With a DUI case, defense counsel is dealing with scientific evidence; therefore, your lawyer must have a good understanding of the scientific processes in a DUI case.
An experienced DUI attorney will have a better understanding of which DUI defense strategies can be used in your case, whereas an attorney who practices various areas of law, such as personal injury, divorce, and criminal law, is less likely to know which evidence to challenge simply due to lack of knowledge and experience.
Knowing whether the officer properly performed the traffic stop, field sobriety tests and chemical test requires training, skill, and experience, so your defense lawyer must be well-qualified. A felony DUI is a serious criminal charge, but remember, a criminal charge is only an accusation.
Don’t let an accusation become a conviction without first hiring a skilled DUI attorney to carefully review and challenge the evidence against you. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., Attorney Landry is not only a member of the National College for DUI Defense, she is a Board-Certified DUI defense specialist!
Facing DUI charges? Contact us to chedule a free consultation with OC’s DUI Queen!