When people ask, “Is a DUI a felony?”, this is really a question of the level of punishment involved.
A non-civil (“criminal”) offense can have one of three classifications:
- An infraction
- A misdemeanor, or
- A felony
Each of these labels indicates what type of potential punishment is involved.
An infraction is an offense punishable by fines only. An example of an infraction is a Los Angeles traffic ticket for speeding.
A misdemeanor is an offense punishable by fines, and/or time in jail.
A felony is an offense punishable at its worst by time in prison. (Not all felonies receive a sentence of prison time, and for many felonies the judge will only sentence time in jail; however, a felony carries with it the potential for time in prison.)
The answer to the question “is a DUI a felony” is like many legal answers – it depends! It depends on how severe the DUI is. Here are three examples of when a DUI is a felony in California:
- If you have a prior felony DUI conviction, and if you get charged with another DUI, this second DUI will automatically be charged as a felony.
- If you have have three prior misdemeanor DUI convictions, your fourth DUI will be charged as a felony.
- If anyone was hurt or killed in an accident involving DUI, then this DUI offense will be charged as a felony.
Otherwise, the DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor.
Dealing with a Misdemeanor or Felony DUI Conviction
DUI convictions are one of the most common types of criminal convictions. Whether you have a DUI conviction as a misdemeanor or as a felony, chances are the conviction will limit future employment opportunities.
An expunged misdemeanor or expunged felony will enable you to truthfully answer “no” if asked by an employer whether you have a past misdemeanor or felony conviction.
There are three exceptions to this rule, the most common of which is if you are asked about a prior misdemeanor or felony conviction by any State Agency in California (such as if you are applying to be a nurse, a lawyer, an accountant, etc.), then you must disclose this conviction even if it was expunged.
As expungement lawyers, we help our clients avail themselves of California Penal Code 1203.4, which is the code section allowing an expungement of a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Be aware, however, that not all convictions can be expunged. Fortunately, DUI convictions can be expunged. Those convictions that cannot be expunged are certain misdemeanor offenses but mostly felony offenses involving sex with minors.
If you were convicted of a felony, this conviction cannot be expunged in the case where you served time in State prison for the offense.
But many felony convictions can be expunged, and many felony convictions can also be reduced to a misdemeanor in order to remove the stigma and some particular consequences associated with being a convicted felon. You can learn more about felony expungement here.
If you would like a free consultation with me concerning your criminal conviction or criminal charge, please contact me by clicking the free consultation button below.