Articles Posted in Felony DUI

Under most circumstances, driving under the influence (DUI) in California will result in misdemeanor charges being filed against you. Most of the 200,000 people arrested for DUI will be charged with a misdemeanor offense.

These are the many people pulled over by a police officer who subsequently smelled alcohol on their breath and conducted a DUI investigation. Under California law, a person is intoxicated if they are driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater.

As long as there are no factors that would result in enhanced charges, a person would most likely face nothing more than a misdemeanor charge for their first, second and even their third DUI. However, if you have had three DUI convictions within the ten year look back period from the initial arrest, you will be facing California felony DUI charges with your fourth DUI arrest.

If your DUI resulted in injury or death to another person you will face felony DUI charges. The injury can be to a passenger in your vehicle, the driver or passenger in another vehicle or a pedestrian. A DUI with injury is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” because it can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the extent of the injury and the county of the arrest.

If your DUI resulted in the death of someone you will be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which is a felony. In these cases, the death will be said to have been caused by ordinary or gross negligence of the intoxicated driver.

If the circumstances surrounding the death of another person while you were drunk are egregious enough, you can be charged with second degree murder. In these cases the death will be said to have been caused by malice or malice aforethought — a conscious disregard for human life. These charges are by far the most severe and are filed against repeat DUI offenders. They are called “Watson murders” because of a 1981 California Supreme Court case that allowed for the crime of second degree murder for repeat drunk drivers who cause a death. Everyone convicted of a DUI in California has to sign or acknowledge being given a Watson advertisement. That acknowledgement essentially states that you acknowledge how dangerous it is to drive under the influence and agree to be charged with murder in California if you kill someone while driving under the influence.

Finally, it is also possible for you to be charged with a felony DUI, for even a simple misdemeanor DUI arrest, if you have a prior felony DUI conviction. So, even a simple misdemeanor DUI arrest with no aggravating circumstances will escalate to a felony if you have had a prior felony DUI.

A felony DUI with bodily injury comes with stiff penalties, such as two to four years in a California State Prison, fines of up to $5,000, mandated 30 month DUI school and a driver’s license suspension of five years. You will also be designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for three years.

A vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated will result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to four years in a California State Prison. The facts surrounding your arrest may cause the punishment to escalate. A gross vehicular manslaughter conviction will result in four to ten years in prison. If you are charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and have two or more prior DUI convictions, you could face 15 years to life in prison.

Continue reading ›

Anyone who causes an injury to another person while driving under the influence (DUI) faces serious charges and might even be charged with a felony DUI. Under California Vehicle Code 23153, an individual will generally be facing a felony charge, depending upon several factors, including the type and extent of the injury.

Since 1989, the law in California states that an individual is legally driving under the influence if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater. It has remained the same for the last 23 years.

“Injury” can mean anything from bruises or a broken finger to major injuries and hospitalization. The only real distinction is that it must be something more than having been shaken up. The injury can be to the driver or passenger in another vehicle, a passenger in the intoxicated driver’s vehicle or a pedestrian.

A DUI with bodily injury is often called a “wobbler.” This means that it can be a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI, depending on whether you have a prior DUI or a criminal background; what county the offense occurred in; and the type of injury the other person sustained.

A person is considered to be “under the influence” if their physical and mental abilities are impaired to the extent that they cannot drive as carefully as a sober person would under the same or similar circumstances.

If you are charged with a felony DUI, you can possibly go to prison for two to four years, in addition to considerable other fines and penalties. These fines and penalties can be enhanced if the victim involved suffered great bodily injury (GBI). The court will assess fines of up to $5,000 and order attendance at a court approved DUI school for 30 months, in addition to suspending your driver’s license for five years. You will also be designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for three years.

Having a felony DUI conviction on your record can have major ramifications that will last a lifetime, particularly if your job entails driving. You will lose your job. Even for individuals who do not drive for a living, it will make obtaining employment difficult when employers conduct criminal background checks. It will also make obtaining car or mortgage loans more difficult, as well as getting into a college or university of your choice.

Continue reading ›

A felony DUI charge is a very different offense than a misdemeanor DUI charge.sA misdemeanor DUI offense covers a wide variety of factual situations, involving a multitude of facts. For starters, driving under the influence cases involve hundreds of difference violations which give rise to the officer justifying the stop. This requirement of good cause, is required to be a valid stop.

Frequently our firm represents clients who have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combined influence of both. Those drivers who have been involved in accidents are exposed to greater potential charges, if an accident resulted in injury to a passenger or other party.

People arrested, often don’t understand that the term accident can describe a very broadsspectrum of circumstances, not just a simple issue. It is critical to our clients defense, to carefully study the accident report to determine a strategy to minimize, if possible, the severity of the accident, thus mitigating, or lessening, the impact of the accident on the possible consequence to the driver.

Many of our clients have been asking us regarding the Ignition Interlock Device law that went into effect on July 1, 2010. Nothing much has happened since it went into effect, leaving many people wondering how and when it would be enforced.

This law is a part of DUI law and is separate from Court order. The DMV is the one that will enforce and implement this new law. When you go to the DMV after having completed you license suspension, you will be required to install the ignition interlock device before you can receive a restricted license.

According to the law those that are convicted of a first time DUI offense will have to install the device for 5 months. Those with a second time DUI offense will install the device for 12 months, third time for 24 months and fourth time offenders for 36 months. Those with more enhanced or aggravated DUIs convicted under Vehicle Code 23153 will be required to have the device in their vehicle for a longer period of time.

sLos Angeles DUI Attorneys are not created equally. There are vast differences in and attorneys skill, expertise, and years of experience. When you have been arrested for a drunk driving case in Los Angeles, it is essential to have the protection and representation of a highly experience DUI Attorney.

Not only do attorneys have vastly different levels of skill, there is also a wide range of legal fees being charged. In general, the least expensive lawyers, typically have the least experience. When your freedom is on the line, going for representation by an attorney with little experience is never a good idea.s

It is attorneys experience that makes the big differencesbetween and an excellent result and a so so result.sThat being said, paying a very high attorneys fee does not guarantee a dismissal either.sCarefully screening an attorney, and asking important questions, allows a potential client to develop a fuller understanding of the attorneys real level of experience in a courtroom, handling cases similar to yours.

There is a well-known expression that perception is reality… what does that mean?sThis phrase as many different applications and contexts. The scope of this blog is to try and explain that being arrested for a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries with it many negative connotations. For example, the term drunk driving gives the impression that the person arrested was in fact drunk. In fact, the law does not require a driver to be drunk, but merely to be driving a motor vehicle with a .08% of alcohol in their bloodstream.

At a trial of a DUI case, prosecutors and even judges present police officers, and their statements as impartial, and unbiased parties. In fact, police officers have an agenda, and that is to build a case against a driver to support their impression that they have been violating the law by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are not neutral, and their observations are colored by their own perception, and by their own need to support their opinion that this driver has broke the law.

Clients of our lawfirm of DUI defense attorneys, frequently our surprise when we are reviewing the air police reports of their arrest, of how negatively they are portraying by their arresting officers.

Knowing when to accept a plea bargain is a very critical decision which requires analyzing objectively the prosecutors case, including any and all evidence they have, and any witnesses.

There are three possible outcomes of a DUI prosecution. The rarest is after the prosecutor in a courtroom finds an obvious error or other critical weakness in their case, theydecide to dismiss all charges. Keep in mind that prior to filing charges, a prosecutor office reviewed the entire contents of the police report and determined that there was sufficient evidence in their opinion to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

The second is a more common scenario, where based on the merits of the case, and after a careful evaluation of both positive and negative evidence, the defense lawyer and prosecutor agree upon a reduced charge or terms of a case settlement. This process is called plea-bargaining.

Police officers are always right… wrong! At Hoffman and Associates, our law firm has successfully defended thousands of driving under the influence cases. One of our effective strategies is to attack and challenge the credibility of the officers observations, statements and conclusions being used against our clients.

You may be unlucky enough to have been stopped by the police for allegedly committing a vehicle code violation, but it is not necessarily true. The main thrust of an officer’s education at the Academy is how to build a case against suspected violators. Officers are taught from the beginning that they must always justify and build a case.

One of the major areas of challenging the officers observations is to point out to the prosecutor, judge or jury, that although the officer will testify from the witness stand, or by the statements in police reports, that his credibility must be established like any other witness, despite the fact that he is a police officer.

The credibility or believability of an officer saw summations and statements should never be considered totally accurate or correct. It is essential that all statements declare fully scrutinized and challenge by her attorney in a DUI or other criminal case.

Very often when our attorneys are reviewing police reports with our clients, major and minor factual discrepancies appear with no rational explanation. Although it’s easy to assume that the clients, or person being charged with the offense is lying or fabricating to make themselves look better. There is often another reasonable explanation.

Although police officers are employed to protect and serve the community, and hold themselves out as neutral and unbiased people, that is not always the case. Police officers also have an agenda… that is to build a criminal case against a suspect who he has determined to be guilty.

When a person is charged with a Los Angeles DUI case they are required by state law to be placed on a minimum of 3 to 5 years of Summary Probation along with a fine to be paid and a rehabilitation program to be completed. In some cases jail time will also be required.

There are two types of probation, informal and formal. Informal probation is generally the case for first offense misdemeanor DUI charges. It is unsupervised whereas formal probation requires the supervision of a deputy probation officer and is usually part of a sentence in more extreme felony charges of DUI.

There are two type of probation violations: external and internal. An internal probation violation results when a person fails to complete the required rehabilitation classes or pay the required fine. An external violation results when a similar crime is committed within the probationary period.s