The justice system in California looks very unfavorably on anyone who is convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The state has very severe penalties to discourage drivers from driving while intoxicated. Although state statutes determine the maximum and minimum penalties for DUI drivers, the judge considers other mitigating factors while deciding a ruling. The number of your previous DUIs also determines the sentencing. In California, the court considers any DUI conviction in the last ten years as a prior.
Read on to understand the penalties of a DUI conviction in California.
The Maximum And Minimum Penalties For First Time DUI Conviction
In California, the first DUI is always charged as a misdemeanor. If you are a first-time offender, you will face the following penalties.
The Court can Fine You.
If you are a first-time DUI offender, the judge can fine you from $390 to $1,000. The amount you have to pay can significantly increase thanks to penalty assessments which the court can factor in the sentencing. You can therefore end up paying several thousand dollars.
You Can Face Jail Time
It’s possible as a first-time offender to face jail time if you’re convicted of DUI. The court can sentence you to 48 hours to six months in jail. In most cases, though, the judge orders probation, which means you don’t face any mandatory jail time. The judge is often lenient on you as a first-time offender and, in most cases, will not sentence you to jail.
Your License Can Be Suspended
For your first-time conviction for a DUI, the court can impose a six months suspension on your license. The Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) can also impose a four-month administrative suspension if your blood alcohol level (BAC) was over 0.08% during the time of the arrest.
If you refuse the BAC testing, the DMV can impose a yearlong license suspension. The two suspensions overlap, which means you won’t have to complete the two suspensions separately as they can run concurrently.
It’s also possible as a first-time offender to apply for a restricted license. The license allows you to drive to essential places like work and school. You will have to use an ignition interlock device (IDD) with the restricted license. If you don’t apply for the IDD, you will have to install the IDD after your license is reinstated.
You Can Be Sentenced To Probation
The judge can also sentence you to three-year informal probation in lieu of penalties or jail time. The informal probation can extend to five years. If the judge sentences you for probation, you must complete a mandatory 30 hours per month of DUI school. But If your BAC was above .20%, you have to enroll in a DUI school for nine months and complete 60 hours in class.
Penalties For A Second DUI Conviction
If you’re convicted for a second time for DUI, the court can impose the maximum or minimum penalty per the state statutes. In California, a second DUI is charged as a misdemeanor. Below are the penalties the court charges you if you are convicted of a second DUI in California.
The Court Can Fine You
The fines for the second DUI are the same as those of a first-time DUI offender. The court might charge you $390 to $1,000. The amount you have to pay can significantly increase thanks to penalty assessments which the court can factor in the sentencing. You can therefore end up paying several thousand dollars.
You Might Face A Jail Time
As a second-time offender, the court can sentence you to 96 hours to one year jail time. It’s possible to serve the jail time as house arrest or through other alternative programs instead of serving jail time.
Your License Can Be Suspended
Unlike the first DUI conviction, the second license suspension due to a DUI conviction is longer. The court could suspend your driver’s license for two years, while the DMV can suspend your license for 12 months if your BAC levels were above 0.08% during your arrest.
The two suspensions can run concurrently. You can apply for a restricted license to help you drive from and to work or school. However, if your DUI conviction involved drugs, you must stay for one year before applying for the restricted license. With a second DUI conviction, you must install an IID for the next 12 months.
The Judge Can Sentence You To Probation
As a second-time DUI offender, the court can decide to sentence you to a three-year informal probation. The judge can decide to extend the informal probation to five years. You must complete either an eighteen- or thirty-month class. It’s the judge’s prerequisite on which DUI class you will attend.
Penalties For Third Time Offenders
Under California law, a third-time DUI is also charged as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of DUI for the third time, you will most likely face the following penalties.
You Can Pay The Following Fines
Similar to the first and second DUI charges, the court will fine you $390 to $1,000. The judge can also add other penalty assessments, which is likely to raise the fine to several thousand.
You Can Face Jail Time
If you are convicted of a DUI for the third time, the court can sentence you to three months in jail. You must complete a 30 days jail term if the court sentences you to probation. You must also attend a 30-month DUI school.
You Can Be Sentenced To A Probation
In most cases, as a third-time offender, you must complete three to five years of informal probation. The judge can also direct you to attend a thirty-month DUI school.
Penalties When The Court Charges A DUI As A Felony.
The court can charge a DUI as a felony depending on certain aggravating factors. If your DUI is charged as a felony, you will face more severe penalties than when it’s charged as a misdemeanor.
DUI Charges Where You Have Caused Deaths Or Injuries
DUI Charges With Injuries
You will face more severe penalties if you injure somebody when driving under the influence. In California, a DUI charge which causes injuries is a wobble which means the court can charge it as a misdemeanor or a felony.
If the court charges the DUI as a felony, the court can sentence you to 16 months to a four-year prison term. The fines for a DUI felony can range from $390 to $5,000, depending on whether you have other DUI convictions.
DUI Charge Which Causes Deaths
You will be prosecuted under the state’s vehicular manslaughter or murder laws if you cause the death of another person while driving under the influence. If you are convicted of this offense, you could face second-degree murder charges, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
If you cause someone’s death due to DUI, you could be charged under Penal Code 191.5, which is “Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated.” The Penal code has two subsections, 191.5a and 191.5b.
Under subsection 191.5a, you were grossly negligent, which means your actions were unreasonable and obviously unsafe.
Under subsection 191.5b, you were negligent on your part but not grossly so. It means you were careless.
The court can charge vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it’s charged as a misdemeanor, you can serve up to one year in jail, pay a fine not exceeding $1,000, and must pay compensation to the victim’s family.
If the offense is charged as a felony, the court can sentence you to 16 months, two years, or four years in state prison. You can also be sentenced to an additional three to six years if other people suffered severe injuries in the accident. The court can also fine you up to $10,000, and you must also pay restitution to the victim’s family.
Penalty For The Fourth Or Subsequent DUI Charges Within Ten Years
The court can charge your fourth or subsequent DUI as a felony, provided a ten-year period hasn’t elapsed from your first DUI charge. The court can sentence you to 16 months to four years in jail on your fourth DUI charge. The court can also charge you fines ranging from $390 to $1,000.
Penalties For Past DUI Convictions
You should be careful not to become a repeat DUI offender since doing so can have undesirable consequences. In California, a present DUI can be charged as a felony even if it doesn’t involve any aggravating factors like injury or death, provided you have other prior DUI convictions in the last ten years. You can face 16 years to four years in prison. The judge can also fine you $3990 to $1,000.
Call An Attorney Near Me
Facing DUI charges can have undesirable consequences ranging from jail time to hefty fines. It's therefore critical to consult an experienced DUI defense lawyer once you are arrested. You should seek the services of an experienced lawyer who is well versed in the criminal justice system. At the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we have represented many drivers in San Fernando Valley & Los Angeles, CA, facing DUI charges. We understand that an arrest can have life changing repercussions. For this reason, we represent you with the intensity and commitment banking on our vast experience of the California justice system. If you or your loved one has been arrested for DUI, don’t hesitate to contact us at 818-582-2350.