(Californian DUI laws with some aspects of personal injury discussed) Being charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in California is bad enough, but when your DUI charge involves injuries to another person, the situation can become even more serious. While being charged with any type of DUI can come with fines, fees, jail time and more, being charged with DUI with bodily injuries can lead to severe consequences. Below are the differences between felony and misdemeanor charges, as well as potential options for handling this serious situation.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
In most cases of DUI, the charge will be a misdemeanor. This means that the driver will pay a fine not to exceed more than $1,000, and he or she may face not more than one year in jail if convicted. Our Santa Cruz DUI lawyer states that a felony, on the other hand, is a much more serious charge, and it can result in thousands of dollars in fines and many years in a federal prison, if you are convicted. With that said, a DUI in California that results in bodily injury will more than likely end with a felony charge. In addition, a misdemeanor or felony conviction will remain on your criminal record indefinitely. In some circumstances, a conviction may be expunged, but the process can be time consuming and expensive, leading many convicted individuals to give up on their quest altogether.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction
As mentioned, a felony DUI conviction may result in thousands of dollars in fines and many years in jail, but those consequences are often just the beginning. A felony conviction resulting from a DUI with bodily injury arrest can also destroy various job opportunities in the future, as many employers are less inclined to hire felons. In addition, felons must abide by a variety of special laws once they are released from incarceration, including the inability to own or posses a firearm. Furthermore, persons convicted of felonies may have a hard time integrating back into society after their time served.
Options for Those Charged with DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury
Thankfully, there are options available for individuals who have been charged with a DUI resulting in bodily injury, including hiring an experienced lawyer, especially those who have been charged with DUI resulting in bodily injury. In such cases, criminal defense lawyers who specialize in DUI charges may be able to help you offer a solid defense in court. A knowledgeable local attorney will also be able to investigate each aspect of your case, from the arrest to your treatment while in custody – meaning you might be able to prove your innocence based on an injustice.
Finally, it’s important that you recognize the responsibility that you hold as a driver. While on the road, you are piloting a machine that is capable of causing serious harm to yourself, your passengers and others on the road, meaning you must always be in control of your vehicle. Simply put, if you’ve found yourself intoxicated, never get behind the wheel. Call a cab, call a friend, take public transportation or find any other way to safely make it to your destination; never drive. Remember, anytime that you get behind the wheel, you hold your life and the lives of others in your hands.
Karla M. Somers is a former family mediator who likes to write about conflict management and other legal issues. She is a contributing author for Terry A. Wapner, a well-known and respected Santa Cruz DUI lawyer, whose practice also includes drug offenses as well as gang-related crimes.