DUI Sentencing Penalties Enhancements

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense. If you are arrested for drunk driving in the State of California, you should contact an attorney to understand your legal rights. Do not go to court or to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) without first consulting a DUI lawyer.  Your DUI attorney can best help defend you against severe penalties in California.

In California, you can be arrested for Driving under the influence (DUI) if you operate a motor vehicle and are either 1) “impaired” as a result of consuming alcohol or drugs, OR 2) have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater. “Impairment” is a subjective legal term that can be challenged by a competent DUI defense attorney.

When you are arrested for DUI, the police will confiscate your driver's license if you have a BAC of .08% or greater. You will be given a temporary “paper” license.  The temporary license will expire in 30 days. Under California law, if you fail to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, you could lose your right to a hearing, and will lose your driving privileges for up to four months, or up to one year or longer, depending on the individual facts of your case.

If you are arrested under suspicion of DUI, you will have to fight your case against DMV, as well as against the prosecution in a criminal court. It is extremely important to have an experienced, California DUI attorney to represent you at the DMV hearing, and in the criminal court.  Your DUI lawyer can interview witnesses, question the officers who stopped or arrested you, and challenge the evidence alleged against you.

Below you will find a list of potential penalties you face if convicted of a DUI or DUI-related offense:

First Offense

Potential penalties for a first time DUI offense can include:

  1. 3 to 5 years Informal Probation
  2. 0 days to 6 months in Jail
  3. 3, 6, or 9 month Alcohol Program
  4. $390 – $500 fine, plus penalty assessments
  5. Miscellaneous mandatory DUI sentencing terms

Additional penalties may include, additional fees, Community Service, Cal Trans, Hospital and Morgue Program, Mother's Against Drunk Driver's Program (or Victim Impact Program), Ignition Interlock Device, and more.

Wet Reckless – A Reduced DUI Charge

Under California DUI law, your California DUI attorney may be able to plea bargain your DUI charge down to a “wet reckless” charge.

Wet reckless driving refers to reckless driving that involves alcohol (California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5). Penalties can include:

  1. 1 to 3 years Informal Probation
  2. 0 to 90 days Jail
  3. No Alcohol Program, or 12 hour or 3 month Alcohol Program
  4. $145 – $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments
  5. Miscellaneous mandatory sentencing terms

It is important to understand the following points about a Wet Reckless plea bargain:

  • A Wet Reckless still counts as a “prior” DUI conviction, if someone receives a subsequent DUI conviction.
  • A Wet Reckless can result in 2 points against your license, and increased insurance premiums.

Multiple DUI Offenses and Convictions

In California, if you receive multiple DUI convictions within 10 years of a prior DUI, you face the following possible penalties:

Second (2nd) DUI Offense

  1. 3 to 5 years Informal Probation
  2. Minimum of 96 hours up to 1 year Jail
  3. 18-month Alcohol Program
  4. $390 to $1,000 fines plus penalty assessments
  5. 2 year loss of license (may be eligible for a restricted license)
  6. Miscellaneous mandatory DUI sentencing terms

Third (3rd) DUI Offense

A third DUI offense within 10 years of 2 prior DUI convictions will result in more severe penalties including:

  1. 3 to 5 years Informal Probation
  2. Minimum of 120 days to 1 year Jail
  3. 18 or 30 month Alcohol Program
  4. $390 to $1,000 fines plus penalty assessments
  5. 3 year revocation of driver's license (may be eligible to apply for a restricted license)
  6. Miscellaneous mandatory DUI sentencing terms

Additional penalties for second and third DUI offenses may also include: additional fees, Community Service, Cal Trans, Hospital and Morgue Program, Mother's Against Drunk Driver's Program (MADD), also known as the Victim Impact Program (VIP), Ignition Interlock Device (IID), Vehicle Impoundment, and more.

Fourth (4th) DUI Offenses

If you are convicted of four or more DUI offenses within 10 years, you could be charged with a felony and will face severe consequences which may include up to 4 years in State prison, up to $5000.00 in fines, and much more. If you or a loved one is accused of a felony DUI, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect your rights, and your liberty.

Felony DUI

Anyone with three prior drunk driving convictions within the past 10 years can be charged with a felony DUI after a fourth arrest. A driver who causes injury to another person also may face felony charges, even if the injury is slight. If there is injury, the alleged drunk driver can be charged with a felony even if that person has never previously been accused or convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol of Drugs (DUI).

Manslaughter and Murder

A person can be charged with second-degree murder if they kill someone while driving under the influence and are alleged to have acted with implied malice. In California, a defendant is deemed to have acted with “implied malice” if they: 1) acted (drove) intentionally, and 2) the natural consequence of the act is dangerous to human life, and 3) at the time they acted, they knew the act was dangerous to human life, and 4) they deliberately acted with a conscious disregard for human life.

It can be difficult to prove implied malice on the part of a drunk driver. However, if the driver has prior DUI convictions, a prosecutor can use those priors to show that the defendant knew the dangers of drunk driving but ignored them anyway.

Manslaughter is a lesser DUI felony charge than murder, but nonetheless has very serious consequences.  California prosecutors will bring manslaughter charges involving DUI if they believe they can prove the motorist arrested killed another person without a specific criminal intent, but with the knowledge that their act of driving under the influence could cause death. This is sometimes referred to as criminal negligence.

DUI Penalty Enhancements

DUI penalties in California can be complex because they differ from case to case.  California law allows for enhanced or additional penalties for drunk driving when any of the following circumstances are alleged:

  • Prior conviction(s) for DUI or a Wet Reckless
  • Excessive speeding
  • Having a blood-alcohol reading (BAC) of .15% or greater
  • Refusing to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine test)
  • Under 21 years of age – zero tolerance (Being under 21 and driving in California with a BAC of  0.01% or greater is illegal.)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Hit and Run
  • Accident with injury or property damage

Contact Us

White Goldstein specializes in defending against DUI charges. Our teams of experienced DMV and criminal defense trial attorneys have successfully represented clients throughout Los Angeles, and surrounding counties throughout California. Contact White Goldstein today for a free confidential consultation.  The right legal advice concerning your DUI offense will make an enormous difference in the outcome of your case.

Call us at: (877) 77 WE-WIN or (877) 779-3946.

White Goldstein has an impeccable defense record and will fight to win your case. Contact us at (877) 779-3946 to set up a consultation.

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At White Goldstein, we provide our clients, and their loved ones, with nothing less than excellence in criminal defense. Unlike many criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, we fight for our clients with compassion and emotion as well as intellect and skill because we genuinely care for our clients and their families

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