Felony DUI in California

In the US, one person dies every 39 minutes in a drunk-driving crash. Driving under the influence is an irresponsible thing to do, as it not only puts yourself in danger, but also everyone else around you. Not to mention, it can result in damages, so drunk driving can be an expensive move.

Yet many people still choose to make this mistake, especially since it’s easier to drive home than to call a cab. But this can result in a felony DUI in California.

Are you now worried about what can happen if you drive drunk in the state? Then here are the laws and penalties you should know about.


First, let’s discuss the terms used. “DWI” is “driving while intoxicated,” while “DUI” is “driving under the influence.”

They mean the same thing, but in California, “DUI” is the term used. If you’re pulled over for driving drunk in other states, the authorities may use “DWI” instead.

What Qualifies as a Felony DUI in California?

If it’s your first offense, then a DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor. However, several factors can turn this misdemeanor into a felony.

One instance where you’d get charged with a felony DUI is if you’ve had multiple DUI convictions. Generally speaking, if you’ve had several DUIs within 10 years, you may face felony charges for subsequent offenses.

Also, if your DUI resulted in serious injury or death to another person, then you (as the driver) may be charged with a felony DUI.

Penalties for a Felony DUI in California

There are several penalties for a felony DUI in California, depending on your circumstances. A DUI lawyer may be able to get lesser punishments for you, so it’s worth it to get legal counsel.

Below are the possible consequences you may face.


Felony DUI convictions can have substantial fines. Expect to pay thousands of dollars for your offense.


If your DUI resulted in injuries or property damage, you might be required to pay restitution to victims. There’s no estimation of how much this could be, as it entirely depends on the damage/harm you’ve done.


Significant prison sentences are common with felony DUIs. They can range from 16 months to several years, depending on the circumstances of your case.

License Suspension/Revocation

Typically, your license will be suspended or revoked for a significant period. It may even be revoked permanently if your offense was severe.


After imprisonment, you may have probation terms. These can include mandatory alcohol treatment programs, community service, or other conditions.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

The court may require the installation of an IID in your vehicle. This requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before your car starts.

Avoid a Felony DUI in California

A felony DUI in California is serious business. You’ll have a permanent felony record, which can make it challenging to find employment and housing in the future.

So the next time you think driving home intoxicated is a good idea, think again. It’s better to be temporarily inconvenienced rather than end up with a life-changing felony record.

Are you curious about other legal matters? Then keep browsing our blog page for more relevant articles.