Unfortunately, DUI arrests are very common in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and all of the North Bay. A conviction for any type of DUI charges will result in hefty fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and possibly jail time. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, you need an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney to investigate your case, advocate for you in court, and possibly argue your case to a jury. The district attorney is not going to take your case lightly, and neither should you. For all that we have heard about the dangers of drinking and driving, people still make mistakes.
- Perhaps alcohol impaired your judgment and you drove when you should not have.
- Maybe you did not realize how a relatively small amount of alcohol can actually make you register above the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) on a breathalyzer.
- Do the police think that your legally prescribed prescription medication caused bad driving?
- Did a police officer get it wrong and arrest you without probable cause?
California DUI Laws
If you are arrested or cited for a DUI, the district attorney will charge you with violating either one or both of Sections 23152(a) and 23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code. Section 23152(a) of the California Vehicle Code makes it a crime to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol or any combination of the two. Section 23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code says it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of more than .08%.
Penalties For A DUI Conviction In California
There are several different factors that can contribute to the sentence someone will receive for being convicted of DUI in the state of California. The law enforcement community generally refers to them as “aggravating and mitigating factors”. Among them, the biggest influence will be whether or not it is the first time you have been convicted of DUI.
The minimum and maximum sentences a judge can impose for driving under the influence are set by statutes. The limits within those statutes are determined by how many prior convictions for DUI a person has at the time of sentencing. Under California law, a prior DUI conviction will be used to influence these limits for up to 10 years. Any prior conviction older than 10 years will not be considered (but will remain on your criminal record).
First, second, and third time DUI offenses are usually charged as misdemeanors in California.
Penalties For A First DUI Conviction In California
- Fines – Fines can be imposed ranging from $390 to $1,000. “Penalty assessments” will also be added on that can push the actual total up to several thousand dollars.
- Jail – Possible jail time can range from 48 hours to six months. It is also possible that the judge will order probation, which negates any mandatory jail time.
- Driver’s License Suspension – Six months suspension plus a four-month administrative suspension from the DMV. Suspensions can be concurrent or consecutive. First offenders may be allowed to apply for a restricted license to travel to work or school but will have to use an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. Those who do not apply for a restricted license often must use an IID for six months following the license suspension.
- Probation – First-time offenders generally receive three years of probation but can get up to five. They will normally also have to attend DUI classes for 30 hours but will be required to attend for 60 hours over nine months if their BAC registered .20% or more.
Penalties For A Second DUI Conviction In California
- Fines – $390 to $1,000 plus assessment fees.
- Jail – 96 hours to one year. A jail sentence may sometimes be served through house arrest or a jail-alternative work program.
- Driver’s License Suspension – Two-year court suspension plus one year DMV administrative suspension. Suspensions may run concurrently or consecutively. The defendant may apply for a restricted license unless the offense involved drugs, then one year of suspension must be served first. All second-time offenders are required to submit to an ignition interlock device for 12 months.
- Probation – Three to five years of probation. The defendant must also complete an 18-month or 30-month DUI school as determined by the judge.
Penalties For A Third DUI Conviction In California
- Fines – $390 to $1,000 plus assessments.
- Jail – 120 days to one year. The judge may also elect to reduce jail time to 30 days and impose probation plus a 30-month DUI school.
- Driver’s License Suspension – Three-year court suspension plus a one-year DMV administrative suspension. The suspensions can run concurrently or consecutively. The defendant may apply for a restricted license unless the offense involved drugs, then one year of suspension must be served first. All third-time offenders are required to submit to an ignition interlock device for at least two years.
- Probation – Most third-time offenders will receive from three to five years on probation and the judge may also order the attendance of a 30-month DUI school.
Penalties For DUI Involving Injury Or Death In California
Charges for a DUI involving injuries can be filed as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances. If charged as a felony, penalties will be more severe and can include a prison (not jail) sentence ranging from 16 months up to four years. Fines will also be elevated, ranging from $390 up to $5,000.
DUI offenders who cause the death of another person are usually charged under California’s vehicular manslaughter or murder laws. The charge could be negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or second-degree murder.
The ultimate penalties for a DUI involving a fatality can vary greatly. For example, negligent vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On the other end of the spectrum, however, a conviction for second-degree murder can involve a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
You Only Have 10 Days To Request A Hearing That Could Save Your License
If you are arrested or cited for driving under the influence, the officer is required by law to confiscate your license, issue a notice of suspension and notify the DMV. The officer will provide you with a temporary license which will allow you to drive 30 days from the date the order of suspension or revocation was issued, provided you have been issued a California driver license and your driver license is not expired, or your driving privilege is not suspended or revoked for some other reason.
It is extremely important that you contact an attorney immediately after your arrest or citation for a DUI. You only have the right to request an admin per se hearing within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order. Time is of the essence. If you want to fight to keep your license and begin the investigation and defense of your DUI case, you need to start now.
Speak With A Qualified California DUI Attorney
However you came to be arrested for a DUI, you need the help of an experienced DUI lawyer right away. Make no mistake, DUI charges are criminal charges and nothing to be taken lightly. Don’t risk taking legal advice from just any law firm that you find on Google offering fast results or low costs.
The Law Office of Amy Chapman has been representing people accused of DUI in Northern California for over a decade. From the first appearance to consulting expert witnesses, all the way up to jury trial, I will be on your side advocating for your best interests. I have the resources, skills, and experience with California criminal law that you need to protect your rights and build the best defense possible. Call me today at (707) 636-3207 or contact me online anytime to schedule a free consultation and begin planning your defense right away.