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How Much Jail Time for Pleading Guilty to a Felony DUI?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Aug 31, 2022

California Vehicle Code 23152 VC driving under the influence is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, some could be filed as a felony if certain conditions are met.

If convicted of a felony DUI, the legal penalties are harsh. They could impact your future opportunities for many years as you could lose your driver’s license, pay hefty fines, and face jail time in state prison.

How Much Jail Time for Pleading Guilty to a California Felony DUI?

There are different scenarios where a DUI could be charged as a felony. First, if you have three or more convictions for DUI or reckless driving involving alcohol within the last ten years.  Next, if you were involved in a DUI accident causing injury to someone.

In other words, if you have acquired three or more convictions for DUI within the preceding ten years, you could be charged with Vehicle Code 23152 as a felony.

A conviction will result in either jail time or probation.  If granted probation, you could be required to serve a minimum of 180 days in county jail and surrender your driver's license to the court.  They might also be deemed a habitual traffic offender, and your license will be revoked for three years. 

If someone was injured in a DUI accident, you could be charged with violating Vehicle Code 23153 VC, known as a DUI causing injury, or Vehicle Code 23153(b), known as driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, causing injury.

Intoxication involves a blood alcohol content of .08 or more unless you drove a commercial vehicle or passenger for hire, in which case a blood alcohol content of .04 or more suffices.

Vehicle Code 23153 is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision typically depends on the severity of the accident and the extent of the victim's injuries, along with your prior criminal history.  Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys will review this further below.

Minimum of 90 Days in jail

Whenever someone has to plead guilty or no contest to a felony DUI, they can expect some time in jail or custody.  It's a minimum of 90 days in jail for a felony DUI most of the time. 

If the injury is bad enough for the other party, it will be a prison sentence. A great bodily injury adds three years on top of the three-year maximum for a felony DUI which brings the total maximum penalty for any felony DUI to six years in prison.

If there's a great bodily injury allegation, the person would have a strike on their record, at least in California, for the rest of their life. Thus, the penalties for a felony DUI could include:

  • up to sixteen months, two years, or three years in state prison, a fine of up to $1,000, mandatory interlock device for at least one year, and other license suspension or restriction.
  • a felony DUI causing death could lead to life in prison.

There are several collateral consequences to having a felony conviction, such as being prohibited from owning, possessing, or using a firearm for the rest of your life.  If sentenced to a California state prison, you are barred from expunging your conviction in the future.

What Are the Related California Crimes? 

Contact a Felony DUI Defense Professional

So, as you can see, they take felony DUIs very seriously.  If you've been booked for a felony DUI, charged with a felony DUI, and need help, you've come to the right place.  I have much experience dealing with these cases over the last 30 years. I know the best defense strategies.

Felony DUI Defense Professional in Los Angeles

First, I started by working for the District Attorney's office in East Los Angeles and then for a superior court judge in Burbank. Finally, in the early 1990s, I became a criminal defense attorney and have defended people like you in hundreds of DUI-related offenses.

One way to avoid jail or prison time in a DUI case is to reduce the felony DUI down to a misdemeanor DUI.  That's done in several ways. First, if you're not guilty, that would certainly eliminate it.  Secondly, if it can be proven that you didn't cause the injury, that's another way to get rid of a felony DUI. 

You do that because maybe somebody else is at fault for the injury. Perhaps the person was driving recklessly or negligently and caused their injury, or maybe there's a third party involved that caused the injury.  So, causation can be crucial in a felony DUI case to prove that somebody else is responsible.

Also, if you have a clean record and the injuries aren't as bad as the police once believed, sometimes we can convince the prosecutors not to make the person plead to a felony DUI.

I have also worked out deals where the person pleads to a felony DUI, but after a certain period – a year or 18 months – we can get it reduced to a misdemeanor if the person does everything they're supposed to.

Pay Restitution to the Victim

Another thing I see that is impactful when it comes to DUI cases is if there's restitution owed in a case, paying that money back through your insurance company or your pocket can make a big difference.

Pay Restitution to the DUI Victim

This is because the prosecutors in felony DUI matters feel responsible for restoring the victims to where they were before the accident, making them whole.  If you can assist in doing that, that certainly puts you in a much better position. 

Each case is unique, and when I deal with these cases, I make sure I get all of the details related to my clients because if we can't fight the case because the prosecutors have good evidence, we can certainly mitigate the case with character letters and other information about the facts and circumstances of the case that the police and prosecutors may not have considered.

So, if you need the best, you're charged with a felony DUI, you don't want to go to jail, you don't want to go to prison, you've come to the right place. 

Pick up the phone now and call the Hedding Law Firm for a free case review.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about DUI law issues in California and throughout the United States.

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