A thorough explanation of DUI law California would probably require a spreadsheet. There are many ways to modify the charges in a DUI case to make the charges more serious and the maximum penalties even worse.
A starting point would be whether the person being charged with DUI has any prior DUI convictions within the previous 10 years. And a ‘DUI prior conviction’ in this context is a conviction for DUI (Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and 23152(b)), a so-called ‘wet reckless’ conviction (Vehicle Code, section 23102/23103.5), or a DUI with injury (Vehicle Code, section 23153(a) or 23153(b). A prior conviction within 10 years for any of these charges or a combination of them would make the DUI charges a first- second- third- or higher DUI charges for the DUI law California.
But before we leave behind the DMV consequences, you should also keep in mind that almost all DUI cases are really two cases in one: one DUI case is the criminal case, in which jail time and fines are at state; and the second DUI case is the case with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in which a suspension of your driver’s license is at stake.
As the prior DUI convictions add up, so too do the jail and fine possibilities, and also the danger to the future of your driving privilege in California.
Here are the maximum penalties for a first-time DUI charge: six months in jail and $1,000. The judge is also required to order the defendant into a DUI class that lasts from three to nine months. The court also piles on various fees and assessments to the fines, so that the typical first-time DUI conviction involves a fine of between $2,000 to $2,500.
The DMV will also suspend the driver’s license of a first-time DUI for four months. Under certain circumstances, the DMV will still allow a person convicted of a first-time DUI a restricted drivers license that will allow the person to drive to and from work.
If the person is convicted of a first-time DUI that caused injury, the DMV will suspend the driver’s license for a year.
An enhancement is a charge that the prosecutor can add to the underlying DUI charge to increase the penalties of the charge. They must be proven in addition to the underlying Dui charge in order to take effect.
One enhancement is speeding a certain speed above the posted speed limit while otherwise driving recklessly. If this enhancement is added to a DUI charge, the maximum jail sentence is increased by 60 days.
Other DUI enhancements include whether the person is alleged to have refused to give a breath or blood sample, whether minor children were in the car, whether the blood-alcohol level of the defendant tested at higher than 0.20% or 0.25%, and whether the DUI happened in a construction zone.
Enhancements also apply to second-, third-, or fourth-time DUI’s.
California Vehicle Code, section 23550.5, also makes any DUI count as a felony if the defendant has, within the previous 10 years, been convicted of a felony DUI, felony DUI with injury, or felony vehicular manslaughter.
Typically, the judge in a first-time DUI will also order the defendant to obey all laws, not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system, not drive unless legally licensed and insured, and agree to submit to a breath or blood test is asked to by a police officer.
Judges are also warning people convicted of any DUI or wet reckless charge that “driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is very dangerous, and that if you continue to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and as a result, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.”
For a second-time DUI, the fines are typically increased by around 50%, and the maximum jail sentence increases to one year in county jail. The judge is also required to order the defendant into a DUI class that lasts eighteen months. The DMV will also suspend the driver’s license for two years, although it is possible to get a restricted drivers license, to allow driving to and from work, after several months.
A person convicted of a second-time DUI may also be ordered to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in their car for a period of up to two years. We have a list of the firms that install ignition interlock devices and we can give it to our clients if and when needed.
In addition to the other conditions ordered by the judge (see the paragraph above), the judge in a second-time DUI case will order the defendant to totally abstain from alcohol (regardless of driving), and to stay away from any business where alcohol is the main item of sale (like wineries, bars, and liquor stores).
There are two types of probation: informal, also known as “court probation,” and formal probation. Most of the time, for a first-time DUI charge, and sometimes in a second-time DUI charge, the defendant will be placed on informal probation for three years. Sometimes, the judge will place the defendant on probation for five years.
Informal probation is where there are very specific passive and active terms of probation that must be followed while the defendant is on probation. No supervision will be conducted by any probation officer.
In some second-time DUI cases, and most of the time in third- or higher DUI cases, the defendant is placed on formal probation for three to five years. While the defendant must satisfy all the terms of probation ordered, when the judge places someone of supervised probation, the probation department supervises the defendant’s sobriety, DUI classes, restitution payments, or more.
For a third-time DUI, the fines are typically increased by around 30% from the second-time DUI fine, and the maximum jail sentence increases to one year in county jail, with a minimum of 120 days. Typically, even 120 days in jail is not attainable. The judge is also required to order the defendant into the eighteen month DUI class. The DMV will also suspend the driver’s license for three years, although it is possible to get a restricted drivers license, to allow driving to and from work, after several months.
A person convicted of a third-time DUI may also be ordered to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in their car for a period of up to three years. We have a list of the firms that install ignition interlock devices and we can give it to our clients if and when needed.
A charge of a DUI with three or more prior DUI convictions within the last ten years is known as a “wobbler,” which means that the prosecutor may charge it either as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are charged with DUI and you have had three or more convictions within the last ten years, you may be facing time in state prison, and it is very important that you call our office and take pro-active measures to minimize the jail, prison, and drivers license revocation time that is facing you. Our office phone number is 707-965-9424.