Not all DUI’s are prosecuted as minor misdemeanors. In fact, there are several different scenarios in which a simple DUI could be charged as a felony, carrying with it substantial prison time. You can be charged with felony DUI under any of the following circumstances:
If you have three or more prior DUI or "wet reckless" convictions in a 10 year period; If you have at least one prior felony DUI conviction; If you have been in an accident and arrested for DUI causing injury or death to another person.
When an accident is involved, the State must prove not only that you were driving under the influence at the time of driving, but that this was the cause of the accident. As a skilled Temecula DUI attorney, Parwana Anwar often uses accident reconstruction experts to determine if other causes, such as road design, vehicle malfunction, or another motorist were substantial factors in causing the accident in question.
A DUI causing great bodily injury will likely be charged with the great bodily injury enhancement pursuant to Penal Code §12022.7. This section not only adds an additional three years in state prison to the sentence exposure, but it also makes the DUI a serious felony and strike pursuant to the three strikes law in California. Therefore, it takes a minor DUI case and increases the severity and punishment to extremely high levels. Furthermore, any DUI causing death, will likely be charged as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, pursuant to Penal Code §191.5. This charge carries with it four, six, or ten years in state prison.
Moreover, if you have suffered a prior DUI or wet reckless conviction within 10 years and are DUI again and someone is killed, you could be charged with 2nd degree murder in California and face a serious strike conviction, as well as 15 years to life in state prison. Upon a first-time DUI conviction, generally all defendants are admonished of this law, commonly known as the Watson Murder Advisement. This advisement states that you understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. You understand that it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both.You understand that if you continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.
The 1981 California Supreme Court case of People v. Watson codified the doctrine of implied malice as it applies to DUI cases. This doctrine, in essence, holds that as long as an impaired driver knew that driving under the influence could kill someone, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated would be considered reckless disregard for the life of another, and essentially equate to an intentional act, if someone is killed.
Aggravated DUI charges are difficult to defend and the stakes are extremely high. You need an experienced Temecula DUI Attorney to ensure your right are protected if you face this serious charge. Contact our office at 951-698-1250 immediately to speak with a skilled Temecula Criminal Defense Attorney.