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Under what circumstances is a DUI charge treated as a Felony DUI?

In an effort to reduce incidents of drunk driving accidents and the devastating consequences, law enforcers in California have taken to treating certain DUI offenses as felonies. Such charges may bring severe punishments that would, hopefully, discourage drunk driving. When a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes a vehicle accident that leads to injury or death to another person, he or she may face a felony DUI charge.

In addition to proof that a driver was impaired, three additional elements are required to justify a felony charge. A violation of a state law has to be shown, such as speeding or ignoring a traffic sign. An example is a drunk driver who wrecked his car; it was found that he failed to ensure that his passengers, who were injured in the accident, were restrained by safety belts.

The second element necessary in a felony DUI case is the presence of bodily injury or death. However, it has to be shown that the violation of the statute caused the injury or death that occurred in the accident. Third, there must be a proximate cause. This is an act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred. It may be interesting to note that, in some cases, a car has been found to have been a deadly weapon, constituting a charge of aggravated assault.

When a California driver faces a felony DUI charge, he or she may rightfully be concerned about the consequences if found guilty. The punishment for felony charges are severe and could even lead to incarceration. By retaining the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney, the accused person may be ensured that his or her legal rights will be protected. Such a professional will examine each charge and challenge its validity in a court of law. More information about how we can protect you is available on our DUI defense website.

Source: california-drunkdriving.org, "Felony DUI", Nov. 21, 2014

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