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California DUI Penalties

Learn what penalties you may face for a DUI in California

Depending on the circumstances of the case, a DUI in California can leave you facing thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time. The good news is that you will not necessarily be assessed the maximum possible penalties permitted under the law upon conviction. With help from a skilled DUI attorney like Dan E. Chambers, you have an excellent chance of convincing the judge to give you a more favorable sentence upon conviction.

Possible penalties for California DUI

First-time Offender

A misdemeanor conviction of driving under the influence for the first time generally involves penalties imposed by the court as follows:

  1. Informal (otherwise known as “summary”) probation for three to five years
  2. Up to six months in a county jail
  3. Between $390-$1,000 in fines, plus penalty assessments, for a total of $2000 to $2500
  4. A three-month court-approved alcohol and/or drug education program (AB 541 Program)
  5. A 6-month drivers license suspension

However, the typical punishment handed down by the Court for a first time DUI in California varies by the county in which the conviction occurs.  Regardless of the county in which the conviction occurs, when California courts impose a first time DUI sentence that includes probation, the following conditions of probation are always included:

  1. You shall not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
  2. You shall not refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or, in rare cases urine, if arrested for a subsequent DUI.
  3. You shall not commit any additional crimes.

Furthermore, depending on the circumstances, the following conditions of probation may be imposed:

  1. Attendance in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings
  2. Participation in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Program
  3. Restitution (in the event that you caused an accident while driving under the influence)
  4. Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) any car you own or operate for a maximum four-year period. If you are convicted of your DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento County, IID installation is mandatory. However, in all other counties, installation is at the judge’s discretion.

Second-Time Offender

The penalties and punishment for a second offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California typically involve:

  1. 3 to 5 years of summary probation
  2. A fine of $390, plus penalty assessments. This can take the total to nearly $2500.
  3. A 2nd Offender DUI school that is 18-30 months in length (SB 38 Program)
  4. A “mandatory minimum” of 96 hours in the county jail; to a maximum sentence of one year
  5. A two-year driver’s license suspension that, after twelve months, may be converted to a restricted license

However, the typical punishment handed down by the Court for a first time DUI in California generally varies by the county in which the conviction occurs.  Regardless of the county in which the conviction occurs, when California courts impose a first time DUI sentence that includes probation, the following conditions of probation are always included:

  1. You shall not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
  2. You shall not refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or, in rare cases urine, if arrested for a subsequent DUI.
  3. You shall not commit any additional crimes.

Furthermore, depending on the circumstances, the following conditions of probation may be imposed:

  1. Attendance in AA or NA meetings
  2. Participation in the MADD Victim Impact Program
  3. Restitution (in the event that you caused an accident while driving under the influence)
  4. Installation of an IID any car you own or operate for a maximum four-year period. If you are convicted of your DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento County, IID installation is mandatory. However, in all other counties, installation is at the judge’s discretion.

Third-Time Offender

A conviction for third-time DUI in California normally triggers these penalties:

  1. Between three to five years of informal probation
  2. A minimum of 120 days to a maximum of one year in a county jail
  3. Roughly $2500 in fines, penalties and assessments
  4. Completion of a 30-month court-approved DUI education program
  5. A three year California driver’s license revocation which, after 18 months, may be converted to a restricted license.

However, the standard sentences handed down by the Court for a third time DUI in California generally vary by the county in which the conviction occurs.

Significantly, when California courts impose a DUI sentence that includes probation, the following conditions are always included:

  1. You shall not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
  2. You shall not refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or, in rare cases urine, if arrested for a subsequent DUI.
  3. You shall not commit any additional crimes.

Furthermore, depending on the circumstances, the following conditions of probation may be imposed:

  1. Attendance in AA or NA meetings
  2. Participation in the MADD Victim Impact Program
  3. Restitution (in the event that you caused an accident while driving under the influence)
  4. Installation of an IID in any car you own or operate for a maximum four-year period. If you are convicted of your DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento County, IID installation is mandatory. However, in all other counties, installation is at the judge’s discretion.

Fourth-Time Offender as a Felony When You Have 3 or More DUI-related Convictions

When a California felony DUI stems from having multiple prior DUI convictions, the punishment varies from case to case depending on (1) the facts of your specific case, the level of your BAC and any additional aggravating factors, (2) how many prior DUI convictions you have, and (3) when you suffered those prior convictions.  The sentencing guidelines are as follows:

  1. 16 months or two or four years in county jail
  2. Between $390-$1,000 in fines
  3. Habitual Traffic Offender status for three years
  4. A four-year revocation of your California driving privilege.
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