Under Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, DUI is what’s called a “wobbler offense,” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the case. Usually, a first DUI offense without any “aggravating factors” is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense; however, in the presence of aggravating factors, the DUI can be elevated to a felony, or if it remains a misdemeanor, the driver can face enhanced penalties.
An aggravating factor is something that worsens the DUI case. Such factors include:
- Having a high blood alcohol concentration (above 0.15%).
- Being on DUI probation for a prior DUI.
- Having a child under 14 in the vehicle.
- Causing bodily injury to another person.
- Killing another person, such as another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or a bicyclist.
- Having a prior felony DUI on your record.
- Having a prior wet reckless or DUI within the past 10 years.
- Driving at a high rate of speed at the time of arrest.
Weighing the Facts of the Case
When a driver is arrested for DUI, the prosecutor will weigh the facts of the case when deciding how to charge the defendant. The prosecutor will consider the mitigating as well as aggravating circumstances when deciding how to prosecute the individual. For example, if it’s the person’s first DUI and their BAC was just above the 0.08% legal limit and there was no accident and no one was hurt, these facts will work in the defendant’s favor.
On the other hand, if the driver had a high BAC, or if the driver had their kid in the car, or if the driver had a history of DUI, or if the driver seriously injured their passenger while drunk driving – any of these factors would harm, not help the case and would likely lead to increased fines, a lengthier DUI School, a longer sentence, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirement, and other enhanced penalties.
If you’re facing DUI charges in Orange County, contact our firm at once to schedule your free case evaluation!