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Aug 25, 2020

Penalties for a Second DUI in California

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in California and already have a conviction under your belt, it’s likely that you’re anxious about the potential penalties for a second DUI. Before discussing the penalties for a second DUI in California, it’s important to take a quick look at the implications of a first DUI.

The DUI Landscape in California

While there are a handful of alcohol-related infractions in California – like possessing an open container or a person under the age of 21 possessing alcohol – driving under the influence is at minimum a misdemeanor. In fact, there are approximately 120,000 DUI misdemeanor arrests each year across the state. Three out of four of those arrested are men, and four in ten of those arrested are between 20 and 29 years old.

Often, those who are arrested in Oakland on a misdemeanor DUI charge believe that they don’t need an Alameda County DUI attorney. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many people tell themselves that they’re guilty, so why bother with a DUI lawyer? They may not understand that this is the surest path to a conviction – one that has both immediate repercussions and long-term consequences.

One of the immediate repercussions of a first-time DUI arrest and conviction is having to navigate a separate DMV process to retain a restricted driver’s license rather than having your license suspended. This could involve a DMV administrative hearing and a requirement that you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car that is essentially a breathalyzer. An IID requires you to blow into this breathalyzer in order to start your car and periodically as you’re driving.

If you opted not to use an Alameda County DUI attorney the first time around, you may have spent up to six months in county jail. You probably paid up to $1,000 in fines and up to $2,000 in assessments. In addition, you most likely attended an alcohol rehabilitation program. On top of that, you may have had your vehicle impounded. If so, you paid out of pocket for the towing charge, storage costs, and a fee to get your car back.

It’s important to remember that, in Alameda County and the rest of California, driving under the influence doesn’t always involve alcohol. For example, although recreational marijuana is legal, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. The same holds true for other drugs – even prescription medications – as well as a combination of alcohol and drugs.

While it’s intuitive to connect driving under the influence with roads and highways, the reality is that California laws apply to other situations as well. For example, you can be arrested for driving under the influence while operating a golf cart, riding a bicycle, piloting a boat, or driving an all-terrain vehicle.

Under California law, even the definition of driving under the influence can vary. Most people know that Section 23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code designates a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher as driving under the influence. That’s true for most drivers, but not all. For example, commercial truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and even Uber and Lyft drivers are held to a much stricter standard. For them, a BAC of .04 and over is considered driving under the influence.

The difference between having an Oakland DUI attorney advocating on your behalf and going at it on your own is stark. It can mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment, or between living life on your own terms and living under the watchful eye of law enforcement and the courts. It means either paying a nominal fine or forking over thousands of dollars. With the help of an Alameda County DUI attorney, it’s possible to undercut the prosecutor’s case and win a dismissal, negotiate a guilty plea to a lesser offense, or achieve acquittal at trial. It’s safe to say that your chances of a favorable outcome increase exponentially with the help of an Oakland DUI lawyer.

Penalties for Second and Third DUIs in California

One of the reasons that it’s so important to have proper legal representation for your first DUI charge is that, in California, prior convictions matter. The penalties for subsequent misdemeanor DUI convictions are based on the number of DUI convictions you’ve accumulated during the previous ten years. If you’re convicted of a second or third DUI within ten years, you’re looking at paying amounts similar to those of your first conviction, namely up to $1,000 in fines and up to $2,000 in assessments. However, the potential jail time for a second DUI conviction increases. The minimum jail sentence for a second DUI conviction is 90 days and the maximum is one year.

These are the baseline fines, assessments, and sentences. There are several other factors that can impact your case. For example, if your BAC is .15 or higher, you face enhanced penalties for a conviction. Similarly, if there was a passenger under the age of 14 in your car, you can face mandatory minimum jail time of 48 hours. If you are also convicted of reckless driving – such as greatly exceeding the posted speed limit, you can face a mandatory 60 days in jail.

Again, this is where the experience of an Oakland DUI attorney can result in a more favorable outcome. Thanks to your Alameda County DUI attorney’s rigorous defense, you may never be convicted. If the case against you is solid, your attorney might be able to negotiate probation in exchange for a guilty plea. Probation does come with conditions, such as participating in and paying for a two-and-a-half-year alcohol education program, installing an IID, and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

If probation isn’t a possibility, your attorney can try and convince the judge that justice is better served if you receive an alternate sentence. Scenarios for an alternate sentence can include taking up residence in a sober living house, performing community service in lieu of jail time, or wearing an electronic monitor. Achieving these more favorable outcomes is akin to threading a needle. It’s easy to see why it’s crucial to have the help of a seasoned Oakland DUI attorney who understands how to navigate the Alameda County criminal justice system.

The penalties assessed by the criminal justice system are substantial, but are in fact just one facet of the consequences posed by a second or third misdemeanor DUI conviction. For example, a second conviction means that your driver’s license is suspended for two years. Alternative transportation costs, such as a Lyft to get to and from work, can be substantial. Relying on friends and family members for transportation can get frustrating for everyone involved. A year into your suspension, you are allowed to request a restricted license from the DMV. At that point, you are required to pay a fee and show proof of financial responsibility. This means that you must purchase car insurance – insurance that will likely have a steep price tag of more than $5,000 per year.

Installing an IID also costs a substantial amount of money. Typically, you’re required to keep an IID on your vehicle for one year following a second misdemeanor conviction and two years for a third conviction. In addition to the cost of installation, the monthly charge for an IID can range from $70 to $100 per month. A court-ordered alcohol education program is also expensive, and can cost upwards of $1,200.

Felony DUI Charges

If you’re facing a second round of DUI charges in California, you should have every motivation to fight them. Again, California bases some penalties on the cumulative total of DUI convictions over a ten-year period. While most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, each year about 5,000 DUIs are charged as felonies. For example, fourth and subsequent DUIs within a ten-year period are charged as felonies, a conviction for which carries a prison term of 16 months, two years, or three years.

It’s important to note that even a second DUI can be charged as a felony. It’s considered a “wobbler” if you injure someone while driving under the influence. This means that you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries a minimum sentence of five days and a maximum sentence of a year in jail, fines of up to $5,000, and victim restitution. A felony conviction carries the above-mentioned prison term, plus a one-year sentence enhancement for each person who was injured.

How an Alameda County DUI Attorney Can Help

As discussed above, your Alameda County DUI attorney can work to have the charges against you dismissed, can negotiate a plea agreement, and can advocate for alternative sentencing or probation in lieu of jail time. But your attorney is also at your side every step of the way, guiding you throughout the process. For example, they can meet you at the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility when you are released after your initial booking. They carefully review the evidence against you, such as your breathalyzer, blood, and field sobriety test results, as well as the report of the arresting officer. They can secure a DMV administrative hearing on your behalf and help you obtain a restricted driver’s license within the required ten-day timeframe. They appear at your arraignment, which most likely takes place in Alameda County Superior Court at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse on Washington Street in Oakland. There, they guide you in entering your plea. Throughout the process, they craft your defense – one that has the best chance of resulting in a favorable outcome.

There is no one-size-fits-all DUI defense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your Oakland DUI attorney may challenge the accuracy of the field sobriety tests you were administered or the breathalyzer you were given. The truth is, field sobriety tests aren’t foolproof. Environmental conditions, age, disabilities, and even anxiety can impact the results. The same holds true for breathalyzers. Someone who has just used mouthwash or who has just taken a drink can trigger inaccurate breathalyzer results. Your attorney can argue that the results are simply unreliable. They might also contest the admissibility of the evidence against you if the police officer didn’t have probable cause to stop you, if you weren’t read your Miranda rights, or if your rights were violated in some other way.

When considering the penalties for a second DUI in California, you can’t overlook the importance of proper legal representation. Your Alameda County DUI attorney has the experience needed to understand both the law and the particulars about the ways in which the Alameda County District Attorney’s office operates. Your attorney knows that the D.A.’s office can’t bring every case to trial. They don’t have the staff or the budget for that. When your attorney leverages that knowledge to cut a deal, they can achieve powerful results. Sometimes the D.A. drops the charges. Other times the charges are reduced to a “dry reckless” or “wet reckless.” Still other times, you can achieve a better outcome at sentencing.

If you’re facing penalties for a second DUI in California, your next call should be to Silver Law Firm. Silver Law Firm’s Alameda County DUI lawyers will put their considerable skill to work for you and relentlessly advocate on behalf of your future and your freedom.

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