No one is exactly sure what 40-year-old driver (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was thinking when she decided to steal an orange cab, then located in the downtown district of Martinez near the 800 block of Escobar. It wasn’t difficult; the keys were in the ignition. He proceeded to California Highway 4, going the wrong way for most of her journey and driving through the dirt median at least once. Only after causing 2 separate accidents were the California Highway Patrol able to end the strange bedlam. Now, he stands charged with felony DUI and grand theft auto (CA Vehicle Code 23513 and CA Penal Code 487).
There are only 3 circumstances under which a DUI can be charged as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Usually, unless there are extenuating or aggravating circumstances, a DUI will be considered a misdemeanor. However, if 1) you have violated any traffic laws; 2) have caused injury to a third party; or 3) that injury was a consequence of your having driven under the influence.
Additionally, the severity of the criminal charges will be based on the seriousness of the resulting consequences. In other words, once you drive under the influence and cause any kind of accident with injury, it will nearly always be considered a felony. If convicted, he could face harsh penalties under CA Vehicle Code 23513 and CA Vehicle Code 23152, including a 4-year license suspension, completion of a state-approved 18-month alcohol education program, fines upwards of $3,000, and a minimum 180-day sentence in a California state prison.