Having any criminal conviction on your record can have a negative impact on your future, but a felony DUI California, in particular, carries long-lasting penalties that can adversely affect the rest of your life. Not only will you face a prison sentence, driver’s license suspension, and significant fines, but you will also carry the stigma of a felony conviction, which can affect your employment opportunities, relationships, housing, and basic civil rights.

Having a felony DUI conviction on your record can also result in significantly increased penalties for any drunk driving charges you may face in the future. If you have been charged with felony DUI in Orange County, your first course of action should be to hire a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney with experience handling felony drunk driving cases.

Our legal team at Seyb Law Group has more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we have helped thousands of Orange County residents defend themselves against DUI charges. Contact Seyb Law Group today for legal help.

Hire the Best Felony DUI Defense Attorney

The Orange County criminal justice system punishes felony offenses harshly and it is easy to feel like your life is over when facing charges for a felony DUI. However, just because you have been charged with a crime does not mean you will be convicted. It is your constitutional right to defend yourself against these charges in court, and having an experienced DUI defense attorney who understands the complexities of DUI law on your side to challenge the prosecution’s case and argue the existence of reasonable doubt is the best way you can do that. Don’t leave your freedom and your future in the hands of the prosecutor whose main objective is to put you in prison. Contact Seyb Law Group today to schedule your free initial consultation. Your call is confidential, and one of our skilled Orange County DUI defense attorneys will speak with you right away regarding your next step in defending yourself against felony DUI charges.

Felony DUI Penalties

felony dui

Orange County DUIs are considered “wobbler” offenses, which means the drunk driving charge can either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. In most cases, a DUI offense in Orange County is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, there are certain so-called “aggravating factors” that can elevate a misdemeanor DUI offense to a felony DUI. For instance, if you have suffered three or more DUI convictions in the previous ten years, or if you have been convicted of a previous felony DUI offense, you could automatically face felony DUI charges, even if this new DUI is a “simple” drunk driving offense. Additionally, if your new case involves a DUI with injury or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, charges that would otherwise be considered a misdemeanor could automatically be increased to felony charges.

California DUI Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC

California Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC is the law that makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle “under the influence” (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Orange County, meaning your physical or mental abilities are impaired enough that you are no longer able to drive as cautiously as a sober person would under similar circumstances. Under Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC, first, second, and third DUI offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors. However, as mentioned above, there are certain situations in which a prosecutor will pursue felony charges for what would otherwise be a “simple” Orange County DUI.

DUI with Injury or Death

When a third party suffers injury or death because you drove under the influence, and either committed another vehicle code violation or otherwise drove in a negligent manner, you can be charged with a felony DUI in one of three ways:

  1. Under California Vehicle Code § 23513 VC – DUI with injury,
  2. Under Penal Code § 191.5(a) – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or Penal Code § 191.5(b) – vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or
  3. With DUI second-degree murder (otherwise known as a “Watson Murder”)

Multiple DUI Convictions

In Orange County, a drunk driving conviction will remain on your record for 10 years and these types of crimes are considered “priorable” offenses, which means the punishment you face increases with each subsequent DUI conviction. If you have been convicted of three or more DUI crimes within the previous 10 years and you are arrested for another DUI offense, you will likely be charged with felony drunk driving. Prior offenses that can result in a felony DUI conviction include any combination of the following:

  • An Orange County DUI,
  • An Orange County “wet reckless,” or
  • An out-of-state conviction that would be equivalent to an Orange County DUI

Prior Felony DUI Convictions

If you commit any DUI offense in Orange County, even a misdemeanor DUI that doesn’t involve any aggravating factors, and you have at least one prior felony DUI on your record – either because the DUI caused injury or death to another person or because you had multiple prior DUI convictions at that time – the prosecutor will pursue felony charges in your case.


The penalties associated with a felony DUI conviction vary greatly depending on the details of your case, namely the circumstances or aggravating factors that elevated the crime to a felony offense. For example, if you are charged with felony DUI with injury in Orange County, you could be sentenced to prison for up to four years (plus additional time if any victim suffers great bodily injury or if there are any additional victims that suffer any injury) and fined up to $5,000. If your DUI caused the death of another person, and you are charged with vehicular manslaughter or second-degree murder, you could face 15 years to life in state prison, among other penalties.

Felony DUI Probation

In some Orange County felony DUI cases, the court may choose to impose a probation sentence as an alternative to state prison. If you are on probation for a felony DUI, you will have to comply with whatever conditions the court imposes, which may include mandatory meetings with a probation officer, payment of restitution, participation in individual or group counseling, community service, and mandatory drug testing, among other possible terms. If you violate your Orange County felony DUI probation, the court may revoke your probation and reinstate the original prison sentence, impose the maximum prison sentence, extend your probation, or impose additional probation terms.

California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law

The state of California has a habitual offender law in effect known as the “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which imposes stiffer penalties on individuals convicted of a new felony who have one or more previous serious or violent felony convictions on their record, known as “strike” priors. Under the Three Strikes law, individuals in Orange County with one strike prior convicted of a new felony DUI offense would be sentenced to twice the prison term otherwise required by drunk driving laws. A new felony DUI conviction with two or more strike priors would result in a sentence of 25 years to life, with no time off for good behavior and no possibility of parole before the minimum 25 years is served.


Any time you are charged with a criminal offense, you should hire a reputable criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and help you build a strong case in your defense. In your felony DUI case, an experienced DUI defense lawyer will aggressively challenge the DUI arrest and other aspects of the prosecution’s case against you, possibly raising questions about the results of the chemical test or the legality of the arresting officer’s initial traffic stop. Your attorney may be able to convince the court that a felony DUI is not appropriate based on the circumstances of your case and get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor offense with less severe penalties or possibly even get the charges dropped altogether. If you are charged with drunk driving in Orange County, you should immediately call our criminal defense law firm, so our DUI defense attorneys can determine whether you are at risk of facing felony charges and determine what defense strategy improves your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your case.

Best Defense Strategies in Orange County Felony DUI Cases

As you can see, the penalties associated with a felony DUI conviction in Orange County can be life-altering, which is why it is imperative that you hire qualified legal counsel when facing felony DUI charges. Our DUI defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group have a clear understanding of Orange County DUI law and our years of experience defending DUI cases means we can easily determine the most effective defense based on the circumstances of your particular case. The following are some possible strategies your attorney may use to defend you against felony DUI charges:

  • The arresting officer did not have probable cause to initiate the traffic stop
  • The BAC results of the roadside breathalyzer test were inaccurate
  • The police mishandled evidence relating to your breath or blood test
  • The arresting officer failed to properly conduct the Field Sobriety Tests
  • You were not read your Miranda rights before being questioned by police
  • The signs of intoxication the officer observed were due to other causes (illness, fatigue, anxiety, sun exposure, etc.)
  • The arresting officer engaged in racial profiling or other misconduct
  • The officer made an illegal arrest


DUI conviction rates vary a great deal from county to county, but Orange County has one of the highest conviction rates in the state of California, with almost 85% of arrests resulting in convictions. In most cases of misdemeanor driving under the influence in Orange County, a conviction carries relatively minor penalties. However, being charged with a felony DUI can significantly reduce your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome at trial and increase your penalties. For this reason, if you are arrested for drunk driving anywhere in Orange County or the surrounding counties, your first course of action should be to contact a knowledgeable and aggressive DUI defense attorney who can present a strong defense on your behalf and protect your legal rights throughout the duration of your case.

There are many ways in which an experienced criminal defense lawyer can work to get your charges reduced or your penalties minimized. For instance, while a felony DUI conviction typically requires a prison sentence, alternative sentencing may be an option depending on the circumstances of your case, and a DUI defense attorney may be able to secure a sentence that includes probation and rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration. If you have a family and a good job, particularly if you are the sole source of financial support for your family, a skilled Orange County DUI defense attorney may be able to get your penalties reduced and help you avoid jail time.


If you are convicted of an Orange County felony DUI, you will face substantial consequences, including a California state prison sentence, considerable fines, and a loss of your driving privileges for several years, among other penalties. Fortunately, you have the right to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you at trial, which is a right you should always take advantage of. If you or a loved one is charged with a felony DUI in Orange County or the surrounding counties and you are looking for an experienced and passionate DUI defense attorney to represent your case, contact Seyb Law Group today. Our reputation for aggressively protecting the rights of the accused in our community sets us apart from other criminal defense law firms in Southern California, and we will put our expertise to work helping you get the best possible outcome in your felony DUI case.

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