Review of What Happens When You Get Multiple DUI's
Misdemeanor DUI cases under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC include most DUI arrest even if there was an accident and nobody was injured. They also include first, second, and third DUI cases within 10 years of each other.
There are two primary DUI statutes that are used by prosecutors. Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, which makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol. Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC, which makes a crime to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher.
Most people who are arrested for driving under the influence in California are charged with both of these sections. Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC covers driving under the influence of drugs.
There are certain factors that make a DUI a felony, such as a car accident with injuries or death, having a fourth driving under the influence within 10 years, and having a DUI with a prior felony conviction.
Multiple DUI offenses are a significant concern beyond the individual impact of each DUI conviction and sentence.
As noted, a first DUI conviction without aggravating circumstances is ordinarily a California misdemeanor, along with informal probation for up to five years.
Second and third DUI convictions without aggravating circumstances are likewise ordinarily California misdemeanors.
Yet, the number of DUI offenses of which the courts convict a defendant affects the defendant's conviction and sentence.
In general, the more DUIs one commits, the worse the charges and punishments become. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a closer look at the laws below.
DUI First Offense
California Vehicle Code 23538 VC and the following sections state the punishments for first, second, third, and subsequent DUI offenses.
Under Vehicle Code 23538 VC and related law, the punishment for a first DUI offense is:
- up to six months in jail,
- a fine between $390 and $1,000,
- license suspension of 4 month or longer,
- informal or summary probation for three to five years, and
- three or nine months of education program,
- possible installation of ignition interlock device.
Fees, charges, and penalty assessments may increase the costs up to $3,600. The court may also order a vehicle ignition interlock device for six months or suspend the defendant's driver's license for six to ten months, with following license restrictions.
Defendant could obtain a restricted driver's license that would allow them to drive to work and back.
DUI Second Offense
California Vehicle Code 23440 VC and related laws increase the potential jail time for a second DUI offense and impose a minimum jail time if the second offense occurs within ten years of the prior offense.
The punishment for a second DUI offense is:
- not less than ninety-six hours in jail and up to one year in jail,
- fines range remains the same as a first offense, not less than $390 nor more than $1,000, although the court is likely to impose a larger fine within that range than for a first offense,
- defendant must complete eighteen or thirty months of DUI school, and
- maintain a vehicle ignition interlock device for one year, or
- face driver's license suspension for two years, convertible to a restricted license after one year.
Fees, charges, and penalty assessments can increase the total costs to $4,000. You can already see from this information above that the consequences of a DUI conviction increase with each conviction within a period of ten years.
This 10-year period also includes wet reckless convictions in California and out-of-state DUI convictions, if committed in this state, would be considered a DUI.
DUI Third Offense
California Vehicle Code 23546 VC and related law increase the minimum jail time for a third DUI offense within ten years of two prior DUI offenses to 120 days:
- maximum jail time remains one year,
- Fines also remain the same at between $390 and $1,000 for a third offense, with a larger fine more likely compared to that for a first or second DUI offense,
- defendant must complete thirty months of DUI school, and
- maintain a vehicle ignition interlock device for two years, or the defendant will suffer license suspension for three years.
- defendant may convert the suspended license to a restricted license after 18 months.
- designation as a habitual traffic offender by the DMV.
Fees, charges, and penalty assessments can increase the total costs to $18,000.
Four or More DUI Offenses
California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC elevates the prior first, second, and third misdemeanor DUI offenses to a felony offense if the defendant has three or more prior DUI convictions within ten years of the new DUI crime.
The prosecution may count DUI convictions in California, equivalent convictions in other states, and plea-bargained convictions of reckless driving under Vehicle Code 123103, where the defendant was under the influence of intoxicants.
Felony DUI offenses for multiple prior DUI convictions are punishable by:
- up to sixteen months in prison,
- fines and fees up to $18,000,
- thirty months of DUI school,
- license suspension up to four years,
- vehicle ignition interlock device, and
- up to five years of DUI probation.
As you can see from above, a fourth DUI carries severe penalties and you are likely to get some jail time.
California Vehicle Code 23153 VC covers driving under the influence causing injury or death and carries harsh penalties if convicted.
Prior Felony DUI Conviction
California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC elevates a misdemeanor DUI offense to a felony when the defendant already has a felony DUI conviction, without requiring multiple other prior DUI offenses.
One prior felony DUI conviction elevates the new DUI offense to a felony. The penalties are the same or similar to the ones just stated for a felony fourth DUI offense.
Factors Aggravating DUI Charges and Sentencing
The above outline of punishments for subsequent DUI convictions assumes the absence of significant aggravating circumstances.
California law recognizes several aggravating circumstances that could increase the above punishments. Those aggravating circumstances may include:
- blood alcohol content of .15 or higher, much greater than the .08 minimum for ordinary DUI conviction;
- refusing to submit to a chemical test;
- under age twenty-one when committing the DUI crime;
- DUI causing motor vehicle accident, death, serious injury, or injury;
- DUI with reckless driving, including driving at excessive speed; and
- DUI with a child under age fourteen as a passenger in the vehicle.
Conditions of Probation
Readers should note that addition to the penalties listed above, when a judge imposes a sentence for a DUI conviction that includes probation, they will include certain conditions, such as:
- you can't commit any new crimes,
- you can't drive with any amount of alcohol in your blood,
- you can't refuse a chemical test of breath or blood is arrested for another DUI.
Further, the judge could also impose other conditions as part of your California DUI probation, such as you participate in the following:
- victim impact program at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),
- meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) if only alcohol,
- meeting at Narcotics Anonymous (NA) if drugs were involved,
- pay restitution to any victims of your DUI.
If you fail to follow the terms imposed by the judge, the you could face a DUI probation violation that carries additional penalties.
Alternative Sentencing Options for a DUI in California
“Alternative sentencing options” are simply alternatives to serving jail time in a county jail or state prison after you were convicted for driving under the influence.
At sentencing, a judge can impose these as part of the DUI penalties, and some alternatives include the following:
- community service hours,
- Cal-Trans work hours on the roadside,
- house arrest,
- electronic monitoring,
- sober-living home,
- private jail.
It's crucial that your criminal defense lawyer has a clear understanding of all the potential sentencing options to keep you out of jail.
If you were arrested for a driving under the influence with a prior DUI conviction, you will need a criminal lawyer who knows how to fight the charges and negotiate with the prosecutor.
Contact Eisner Gorin LLP who is based in Los Angeles County. Contact our firm for an initial consultation at (310) 328-3776.