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Soquel man pleads no contest to felony DUI charge

 Posted on December 23,2011 in Felony DUI

California law allows prosecutors to elevate charges for driving under the influence based upon prior convictions in the past ten years. That is, prior convictions within that 10-year period can elevate new DUI charges to a higher level offense and increase potential exposure to jail or prison time. A recent case involving a Soquel man looked directly at the issue.

The 21-year-old Soquel man was accused drunk driving after a solo-vehicle car accident in November 2010. The accused suffered injuries in the crash. Police claim he had been speeding before losing control of his car. Authorities say the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent after the crash. The man was originally charged with misdemeanor DUI after the crash. However, prosecutors sought to elevate the charge to a felony DUI based upon the Soquel man's juvenile record.

Roughly four years ago, police accused the Soquel man of crashing his car on Laurel Glen Road while traveling more than 80 miles per hour. Law enforcement claims the man lost control, and the vehicle rolled over, leaving the young man's two cousins dead.

The man was 17 at the time of that accident. He reportedly was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after that incident and the conviction was entered on the Soquel man's juvenile record.

Last week, a judge in Santa Cruz County Superior Court ruled that the prior conviction could properly be used to elevate the current DUI charge to a felony. The 21-year-old Soquel man pled no contest to the felony-level charge and will face sentencing April 21. He could be sentenced to up to three years in state prison for the felony DUI conviction.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Soquel man faces three years after entering plea in drunken-driving case," Jessica M. Pasko, Dec. 20, 2011

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