California legislation considers driving under the influence (DUI) as an offense that does not stand alone on a person’s criminal record. Instead, it considers similar offenses within a lookback period before assigning charges and penalties. The lookback period in California is 10 years, and each DUI conviction within it will escalate the potential penalties for the next DUI charge.
What many people do not realize is that if there are three previous DUI convictions on your record within the last 10 years, then the next arrest will automatically trigger felony charges. Even if no one is ever hurt by your actions and you are cooperative with law enforcement all throughout, the fourth DUI will be a felony. By definition, a felony conviction will put you behind bars for at least a year, but a felony DUI sentence could last up to 16 months. Additionally, you may have to pay close to $20,000 in fines and fees and will likely lose your driving privilege for four whole years.
Get a Santa Rosa DUI attorney on your side immediately if you are facing a felony DUI charge.
Other Ways a DUI Can Become a Felony
Continual DUI arrests and convictions is not the only way to get hit with a felony DUI charge in California. Hurting someone due to intoxicated driving can also constitute a felony DUI, even if your driving record and criminal history are both spotless beforehand. You should also be aware that if you have a DUI felony conviction in your past, any subsequent DUI arrest will be a felony. Imagine the scenario where you cause a drunk driving accident when you are 21, having no prior marks on your record, and are convicted of a felony DUI since someone was injured; if you were arrested for a DUI 20 years later, it would constitute another felony due to the previous conviction, even though it is well outside the lookback period.
It is clear through California’s laws that it will give no leniency to people charged with felony DUIs. If you are facing a felony DUI conviction, there is no time to lose. Get a free case evaluation from our Santa Rosa DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. today.