If a person is booked because they are driving under the influence, can this limit their ability to own firearms? There isn't a straightforward answer to this question. The circumstances behind that particular DUI conviction are going to dictate whether that person's right to own a gun could be affected.
Everyone knows that the "right to bear arms" is protected by the Constitution. However, state and federal laws on this issue, in particular, have been known to almost contradict each other. In short, the Constitution does protect the right to bear arms at the Federal level, but the states can enact their own gun control levels to a certain extent.
A DUI Conviction May Not Affect a Person's Gun Rights
In a case where a person is pulled over and charged with a DUI offense, they won't necessarily put their gun rights in jeopardy. This will be the case if the police pull over a driver because of what officers deem reckless driving or speeding. Once this person is stopped, the officers realize that their blood alcohol level is beyond the legal limit.
That scenario in itself would not affect a person's gun rights, even if they are effectively convicted. They very well could be charged with a misdemeanor DUI in that case. Misdemeanors are typically not going to keep a person from possessing firearms.
There are certain situations, though, where a seemingly routine stop that turns into a DUI conviction could put a person in danger of losing their gun rights. Anything that gets tagged as a felony DUI could make things more complicated.
Felony DUI Convictions - How They Happen
If a person is charged with a felony conviction after a DUI offense, they can certainly be at risk of losing their gun rights. There are a couple of scenarios contemplated under California law where people could potentially face felony DUI charges. Drivers who are under the influence and cause bodily harm to others in a crash will likely be hit with a felony.
People who are facing their fourth DUI offense in 10 years will also be charged with a felony. In most DUI accidents where the drunk driver is proved to be in the wrong, that person could be facing a more serious penalty. People who have committed other crimes and are then stopped while driving under the influence are also more likely to be charged with a felony.
When someone is in a situation where they've resisted arrest trying to flee from the police in any capacity, that could also get them closer to a felony conviction. In those cases, the report filed by the officers in charge of the arrest will heavily dictate the outcome of the case. Judges are more likely to hand down a felony conviction if there's some confrontation with law enforcement. Goss Law also has answers to questions like Can you get a DUI for being hungover in California?
Pulled Over While Carrying a Concealed Weapon
California is known for having some of the strictest gun laws in the country; gun ownership is treated as a privilege in the state. This can be a real problem for people who get pulled over for drunk driving while carrying a concealed weapon in their vehicle. In that situation, a judge could very well decide to revoke a person's right to own a gun.
It's important to keep in mind that owning a gun is not the same thing as carrying a weapon. In a first DUI offense, the person won't necessarily be at risk of losing their gun ownership rights. That is, of course, if they are not carrying the weapon at the time of the arrest.
If a person is carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and they get pulled over for drunk driving, they'll be putting their gun ownership rights very much at risk. Carrying a concealed weapon without a license is not an automatic felony charge under California law. However, combined with drunk driving, the two could be considered aggravating factors that will lead a judge to give that person felony charges.
Getting Help from an Experienced DUI Attorney
Multiple aggravating factors could turn misdemeanor offenses into a felony DUIs. That's why it's important to get help from an experienced California DUI attorney if a person is pulled over. Their gun rights may not be the only thing at risk if they are convicted of a felony.
They could be looking at serious jail time and hefty fines. This will especially be the case if there was a car accident or a domestic violence situation that took place. In those situations, firearm ownership may be the least of a person's worries.
Finding the right DUI attorneys is key to navigating the entire situation. Even if the driver puts themselves in a very dire situation due to their actions, it's still in their best interest to build a solid defense. This will grant them more leverage to negotiate with the court instead of being completely at the mercy of the judge.
Final Thoughts on Can a DUI Hurt Your Gun Rights in California
California DUI laws are rather clear when it comes to what can affect a person's right to firearm ownership. Anything that's labeled as a felony DUI almost always leads to permits being revoked. Ironically, anyone who is facing a felony DUI conviction may be more worried about some of the other consequences that will come their way. Goss Law can also help with questions such as Should you plead no contest for a DUI In California?
Owning guns should not be a major concern in that situation; rather, finding a way to spend as little time behind bars as possible may be the first thing on the agenda. To deal with that, the best way forward is to hire adequate legal help.
One of the biggest issues is that people who are under the influence are more likely to be erratic. In this state of mind, people often have no regard for federal and state laws. What could be a simple situation can escalate rather quickly.
Any DUI conviction can bring unwanted trouble into a person's life. The right help at the perfect time can certainly minimize the consequences of poor actions.