California Vehicle Code 23152 VC includes most misdemeanor DUI cases when nobody was injured. This statute also includes first, second, and third DUI cases within ten years.
Prosecutors use two main DUI statutes, including Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol and Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC prohibiting driving with a BAC of .08% or higher.
Most people arrested for DUI are charged with statutes. If you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, you could be charged under Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC. California Vehicle Code 23153 VC defines driving under the influence as causing injury or death and carries harsh penalties if convicted.
Specific factors are making a DUI a felony, including a car accident with injuries or death, a fourth DUI within ten years, and having a DUI with a prior felony conviction. People with multiple DUIs are a significant concern for police and the courts.
A first-time DUI without aggravating circumstances is usually a misdemeanor in California that carries informal probation for up to five years. Even second and third-time DUIs could also be charged as a misdemeanor.
However, the number of DUI convictions will affect the defendant's sentence as the penalties will get more severe with each case. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will look closely at the law below.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI?
California Vehicle Code 23538 VC lays out the penalties for first, second, third, and subsequent DUI offenses. The punishment for a first DUI offense is:
- up to six months in county jail,
- a fine between $390 and $1,000,
- driver's license suspension of 4 months or longer,
- informal summary probation for three to five years,
- three or nine months of an education program,
- potential SCRAM device or installation of an ignition interlock device.
The fee and penalty assessments could significantly increase the costs to $3,600. The defendant might be able to acquire a restricted driver's license allowing them to drive to work and back.
What About a DUI Second Offense?
California Vehicle Code 23440 VC increases the jail time for a second DUI offense and imposes a minimum jail time if the second DUI occurs within ten years of the last case. The penalties include:
- no less than four days in jail and up to one year,
- fines of not less than $390 or over $1,000,
- complete eighteen or thirty months of DUI school, and
- vehicle ignition interlock device for one year, or
- driver's license suspension for two years, and a restricted license after one year.
Fees and penalty assessments could increase the costs to $4,000. The penalties will always increase with each conviction within ten years, including California wet reckless convictions and out-of-state DUI convictions.
What Are the Punishments for a DUI Third Offense?
California Vehicle Code 23546 VC increases the minimum jail time for a third DUI offense within ten years to 120 days:
- maximum jail time is one year,
- fines remain the same, between $390 and $1,000 for a third DUI, with more considerable fines more likely,
- must participate in thirty months of DUI school, and
- keep a vehicle ignition interlock device for two years, or your license will be suspended for three years,
- possibly convert a suspended license to a restricted license after 18 months.
- designated a habitual traffic offender by the DMV.
Fees and penalty assessments could increase the total costs to $18,000.
What Are the Penalties for Four or More DUIs?
California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC increases the DUI to a felony offense if the defendant has three or more prior DUI convictions within ten years of the new DUI.
Further, equivalent convictions in other states could be counted along with plea-bargained convictions of reckless driving under Vehicle Code 123103. A felony DUI offense for multiple prior convictions carries:
- up to sixteen months in state prison,
- fines of up to $18,000,
- thirty months in a DUI school,
- license suspension for up to four years,
- vehicle ignition interlock device, and
- up to five years of probation.
California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC increases a misdemeanor DUI to a felony if the defendant already has a felony DUI conviction without having multiple other prior DUIs.
What Factors Aggravate DUI Charges and Sentencing?
Under California law, numerous aggravating circumstances can increase the penalties, such as:
- refusal to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood,
- blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher,
- under the age of twenty-one,
- DUI causing an accident with serious injury or death,
- DUI with reckless driving such as excessive speed, and
- DUI with a child under 14 in the vehicle.
What Are the Conditions of DUI Probation?
In addition to the penalties that are listed above, a judge will impose probation that will include specific conditions a defendant must follow, such as:
- don't commit any new crimes,
- no driving with any amount of alcohol in your body,
- if arrested for a new DUI, you can't refuse a chemical test,
- participate in a victim impact program at MADD,
- attend meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or
- attend meetings at Narcotics Anonymous (NA),
- restitution must be paid to any victims of your DUI.
If you don't follow the terms and conditions set by the judge, you could face a probation violation with more penalties.
What Are the Alternative Sentencing Options for a DUI in California?
An alternative sentencing option means a sentence rather than time in jail for a driving under the influence conviction. The judge can impose these punishments below:
- complete a certain amount of community service hours,
- Cal-Trans work on the roadside or highway,
- electronic monitoring or house arrest,
- time in a sober-living facility,
- serve time in a private jail.
Your criminal defense lawyer needs to understand all the potential sentencing options to avoid jail.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence with prior DUI convictions, then you will need seasoned legal representation that is a skilled negotiator with the prosecution.
Early intervention into your case by our law firm could be crucial to the case's outcome.
Prefiling negotiating with the filing deputy could convince them not to file formal charges in the first place.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California and we offer a free case review by phone or use the contact form.