Articles Posted in DUI Priors

Typically, if you are arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are situations that can and will result in a felony DUI. Here are some examples of felony DUI’s:

  1. Fourth or More DUI

A fourth, or more, arrest for DUI, within a ten-year period, will automatically be filed as a felony. A felony is obviously more serious in terms of the consequences but it also has a more serious long-term effect on a person’s life. A conviction for a 4th DUI typically requires jail time. However, depending upon the individual’s circumstances, alternative sentencing may be an option. For someone who has a family and a job, and who may be the sole support of their family, an aggressive DUI defense lawyer is absolutely crucial. Getting creative with the sentencing that will both satisfy the Court and help the individual keep their job, should be the goal of the attorney.

Do prior convictions for DUIs in other states qualify as priors in California?

The answer is yes, but, according to California law, it must be a “qualifying offense”, meaning that the prior must have the same elements as a conviction for DUI in California. What this means is that in order to be convicted for DUI in California, the prosecution must prove two basic elements: 1) That you drove, and 2) That you drove with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. Other states have similar or the same elements. So, if you have had a DUI in another state, where the elements are different, it would not qualify as a “qualifying conviction” and therefore, could not be considered a prior for purposes of an enhanced sentence in California.

In a recent case entitled People v. Self, the trial court allowed a prior Arizona conviction for DUI to enhance his conviction in California. Self appealed the conviction on the grounds that Arizona’s DUI elements are different. Arizona law states that you are in violation by “the slightest impairment from drugs or alcohol.” California law states that you are dui if your blood alcohol is .08 or higher. Clearly the elements are different.