DUI Penalties in California

People charged with DUI face Criminal Court and DMV penalties in the form of license suspension, fines and fees,  mandatory alcohol education classes and in some cases jail time.  A1st or 2nd offense DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but can be charged as a felony.  If there was an accident or injuries were caused by a DUI, a felony charge can be expected. Often 3rd or 4th DUI’s are charged as a felony.

Criminal Court Penalties for 1st Offense DUI

Misdemeanor DUI- Jail-time and Fine: Up to 6 Months and $1000

DUI is charged under the California Vehicle Code section 23152. (CVC 23152)  It is a misdemeanor, with up to six months jail-time in a county jail and a fine of up to $1000.  After court costs, miscellaneous fees and extras are added by the court, a person paying these fines often ends up owing $1500 to $1800 to the county.

Driver’s License Suspension: 6 month restrictions

For a 1st offense, the Court will impose a 6 month restriction on a driver’s license.  During the 6 months, the driver can only drive to and from work.  The court  restriction on a person’s license is separate and apart from the DMV license suspension/restrictions.

Probation: 3 years summary probation

Probation is often given to the driver, usually 3 years summary probation.  This means the driver cannot get in any legal trouble for 3 years,  or face additional punishments.  Missing a court date, or missing mandatory alcohol classes can result in a probation violation.  The terms of the probation can be complicated because some courts impose restrictions on when or where the person can consume alcohol.CommonDUIDefensesLosAngelesDUILawyer

Felony DUI- DUI with accident cases: State Prison of up to 4 years

Felony DUI charges are reserved for more serious cases.  If a person is involved in an accident that injures other , they can expect to face felony charges.  Prison time served a state prison is a definite possibility and the time in prison can be up to 4 years.  Victim restitution is also imposed, which means the defendant has to pay the victims money for their injuries.

DMV Penalties for 1st Offense DUI

License Suspension: 4 months (in addition to Court restrictions)

The DMV issues a 4 month driver’s license suspension for a 1st offense DUI.  In Los Angeles County, a driver wishing to get a restricted license must install an Ignition Interlock Device (breathalyzer) on their car and show proof of insurance (called an SR-22).

Insurance rates for someone with a DUI are significantly higher than many expect.  It is not un-heard of to have to pay $2000-$3000 more per year for auto-insurance if you are convicted of a DUI.

Court Penalties for 2nd Offense DUI

Misdemeanor Jail time and Fines:  Minimum of 96 hours up to 6 months, $1000 fines

For a 2nd offense DUI, jail time is mandatory under California law.  The judge has no discretion: if you are convicted of a 2nd offense, you must do 96 hours of jail at a minimum.  Often prosecutors seek more jail time, with 30 days being a standard amount of jail time that is sought in these cases.  Fines and court fees typically run into the $1500 to $2000 range.

Probation: 3 to 5 years summary probation

Probation is often given in 2nd offense DUI cases.  Usually the probation is 3 to 5 years in length.  During the probation period, the person cannot get in any legal trouble or violate any laws or they face additional punishment.

DMV Penalties for 2nd Offense DUI

License Suspension: 1 year

For a 2nd offense DUI, the DMV suspends the driver’s license of the driver 1 year.  This is in addition to any court restrictions on the driver’s license.

Insurance rates are significantly higher for someone who has a DUI.  Like 1st offense DUI drivers, someone with a 2nd offense DUI will face thousand of dollars in increased insurance premiums.


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