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When Is a DUI with Injury a Felony?

By San Diego Attorney on September 15, 2021

A DUI with injury may be a felony when it causes harm, when it is your fourth offense DUI, or when the result is manslaughter. When a DUI is pursued as a felony charge, the stakes and repercussions can be severe, and life can become even more complicated.

How a DUI Is a Wobbler

The term “wobbler” or “wobbler offense” is more likely to be observed in the context of California criminal law than in other jurisdictions. DUI with injury is considered a “wobbler” offense in California and is a crime that can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. The prosecuting attorney normally decides whether to pursue one or the other, taking into account the circumstances of the case and determining the one he or she believes has the highest chance of being convicted.

When a Prosecutor Will Pursue Felony Charges

DUI charges are prosecuted under California Vehicle Code sections 23153(a) and  23153(b) and can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the degree of bodily injury sustained by the victim.

Drunk driving charges containing aggravating circumstances, such as causing an accident that leads to the injury of another person or committing your fourth DUI offense or more within the last 10 years of your first conviction, are commonly referred to as felony DUIs. Prosecutors use the California District Attorneys Association’s Uniform Crime Charging Standards when considering how to proceed with a criminal case.

DUI Causing Injury

If someone is hurt as a result of your drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs, you could be charged with DUI “causing harm,” which carries a very serious penalty. When choosing whether or not to prosecute this offense as a felony, the prosecuting attorney considers the facts of the case, such as the severity of the injuries, your driving behavior, and other similar critical factors. It is worth noting that even a first-time DUI can be punished as a felony if an accident results in a major injury collision.

DUI that results in a non-traumatic injury is likely to be charged as a misdemeanor DUI with injury.

Fourth Offense DUI

If you have three prior DUI convictions and are charged with a fourth DUI during a 10-year period, the fourth DUI charge, as well as any subsequent offenses, is considered a wobbler. The District Attorney will not automatically prosecute you with this crime, but if you are a frequent traffic offender, they may do so.

Manslaughter in a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated

You may be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you are involved in a DUI-related accident that results in the death of another person. While technically a wobbler offense, most of these charges are prosecuted as felonies unless the court or prosecution can be persuaded to lower the charge to a misdemeanor.

Schedule a Consultation With DUI Attorney James N. Dicks

There are a number of strategies to fight a charge of Driving Under the Influence pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and 23152(b). If you have been charged, please get in contact with experienced Attorney James N. Dicks at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys to discuss your case in a free consultation: (760) 638-5266.

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