When is a DUI a Felony?

A DUI is generally a misdemeanor in California.  In some instances the offense can be felony.  The prosecutor has the discretion to charge a violation of Veh C §23152 as a felony when the defendant has:

1. Three or more separate DUI convictions within ten years of the current offense. This particular requirement compels the District Attorney to show that the defendant was convicted of either VC 23152 or VC23153.

2.  A prior felony DUI conviction or prior felony gross vehicular manslaughter violation within the past ten years of the current offense. The accused must have actually sustained a conviction as a felony, not one that was reduced to a misdemeanor under PC 17b, a sentence of state prison is not required.

3.  A prior conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Pen C §191.5(a)), felonious vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated but without gross negligence (Pen C §191.5(b)), or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and when committed during the operation of a vessel.

Once the DA establishes the requisite elements of the crime, the complaint can be amended to add a felony.