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What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor & a Felony DUI in California?

When someone is caught operating their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will most likely receive a DUI. That being said, the consequences they will face upon conviction will depend largely on the circumstances of the crime. Please continue reading and reach out to our knowledgeable Tehama County DUI lawyer to learn more about the difference between misdemeanor & felony DUIs in California. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What is classified as a misdemeanor DUI in California?

In most cases, a standard first, second, or third DUI will be considered a misdemeanor. However, you should understand that the penalties for any DUI can potentially land someone in jail, go on their record, warrant high fines, and cause them to lose their driver’s license for a considerable period of time. For example, for a third DUI in California, you can expect to face up to 1 year in county jail, up to 5 years of probation, a potential 3-year license suspension, fines, and more.

What makes a DUI a felony in California?

Though most DUIs will be considered misdemeanor charges in California, it is important to understand that there are several aggravating circumstances that may make a DUI a felony crime. For example, if you seriously injured or killed another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will most likely face felony charges. Additionally, if you have a previous felony DUI conviction on your record and you are charged with a DUI afterward, there is a very good chance that you will face felony DUI charges. You will also face felony DUI charges if you are convicted of three or more DUIs within 10 years.

Of course, the penalties for a felony DUI conviction are generally harsher than the penalties for misdemeanor DUI charges. For example, for a DUI that resulted in injury or death, you may face anywhere between 16 months and 16 years in a California state prison. You will also lose your driver’s license for at least 5 years and you will face a $5,000 fine, among other penalties. The bottom line is that if you’ve been charged with a DUI in California, you need experienced legal representation on your side. Our Red Bluff criminal lawyer is here to help.


Here at Cohen Criminal Law, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Our mission is to defend your rights, and we are committed to that mission. We will be your number one advocate through every step of the process. Attorney Cohen has fought on behalf of those charged with crimes for over 30 years, and he is ready to fight for you, too. Contact Cohen Criminal Law today to schedule your free initial consultation with our firm.