If you have a second DUI in California, the penalties can be harsh. For instance, you will face both adminstrative and criminal penalties. However, an experienced attorney may be able to help you avoid jail time.
Sanctions imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, are independent of any criminal penalties. If you receive your second DUI offense within 10 years, the DMV will suspend your license for a minimum of one year; however, your license could be suspended for up to two years.
The lookback period for a prior DUI is 10 years. The period is calculated from arrest date to arrest date. Therefore, if you receive a DUI within 10 years of a prior DUI, then you will be charged with a second DUI. Criminal penalties for a second DUI in California include a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Jail time is mandatory on a second DUI offense. You must serve 96 hours of jail time; it is possible in some counties to have the time converted to work service. Penalties for a second DUI in California also include three to five years of probation. You likely will not have to report to a probation officer, but no amount of drinking and driving will be tolerated. In addition, you must attend DUI School for 18 months.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor in California
All DUIs in California are misdemeanors unless they fall within one of three categories. The first situation arises if a person other than the defendant suffers bodily injury. However, for this situation to escalate a misdemeanor to a felony, the prosecutor must believe that the person arrested for the DUI caused the accident. If a defendant is charged with a fourth DUI within a period of 10 years or if the defendant has at least one prior felony DUI charge on their record, the DUI will be a felony.
If you have been charged with a second DUI in California, you have the option to plead guilty, not guilty or try to negotiate a plea bargain. Depending on the situation surrounding your case, one plea option may be better than another. You may be able to assert a persuasive defense if your situation involves a constitutional violation or if the machine used to test your blood alcohol concentration is old or has not been properly maintained. In addition, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for you.
Getting Legal Help
If you are charged with a second DUI in California, talk to an experienced criminal attorney. A criminal attorney can explain the legal consequences to you and help you decide how to proceed.