Typically, DUI offenses are charged as a misdemeanor in California. Some circumstances make the offenses to get charged as felonies. Regardless of how the offenses are prosecuted, the penalties can be severe to a person. From facing possible jail time, paying hefty fines, to losing your driving privileges, the punishments are harsh, not to mention other related consequences. When you find yourself facing DUI prosecution, getting an experienced DUI attorney is essential to fight for you. If you are in Panorama Heights, call Orange County DUI Attorney on 949-377-2280, and we will help you fight these allegations.
DUI Penalties in California
DUI offenses are priorable ones. This means the penalties keep increasing depending on repeat offenses. However, it is possible to reduce or eliminate some charges. Driver’s license suspension can be challenged if a defendant acts fast and gets a Panorama Heights DUI Attorney to defend him. With an experienced attorney, he can request the DMV hearing and use various strategies to get the best outcome.
As earlier indicated, DUI offenses attract various penalties depending on the offense and how many times the defendant has been an offender. Here, we will discuss the multiple penalties a defendant is likely to face if convicted of the offense.
First DUI Offense
Unless there are other aggravating factors such as causing death or bodily injuries, a first DUI offense is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. The various penalties for a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense are:
- Paying a fine of between $390 and $1,000. Additionally, the defendant will be expected to pay additional assessment fees, increasing the amount to $3,600.
- The defendant also risks jail time. First-time defendants face a county jail time of not more than six months if convicted
- A suspension of your driver’s license is also possible. The court can order a suspension of six months for a first time offender while the DMV can impose an administrative suspension for four months. If you refused to submit to BAC chemical testing, the suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV increases to a year. When the suspension is multiple, the defendant serves whichever is the longest. On completing the first thirty days suspension, the defendant can apply to get a restricted driver’s license to allow them to drive to school or work and back.
- A defendant can also be sentenced to a three-year probation. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, probation can also last for five years. In addition to this, the defendant must attend DUI school for three months. If, at the time of arrest, the BAC level of the defendant was at 0.02% or more, he or she is asked to attend DUI school for nine months.
- The defendant can also be ordered to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicles for not less than six months.
Second DUI Offense
A second-time offense is also prosecuted as a misdemeanor unless there are aggravating factors to make it a felony offense. If one is convicted of a second time DUI offense on misdemeanor charges, they risk facing the following penalties:
- Payment of cash fines ranging between $390 and $1,000. Additionally, the defendant is required to pay additional assessment fees that will increase the total amount to $4,000.
- A second time offender risks a county jail time for not more than a year if convicted
- A suspension of your driver’s license is imposed. The court will suspend your license for two years while the DMV will give a one-year suspension. Again, for multiple suspensions, the defendant serves the longer suspension. On completing the first ninety days, the defendant can apply for a restricted driver’s license. If your DUI offense was due to drugs, then the defendant can only apply to get a restricted driver’s license after one year.
- The defendant can be sentenced to a three-year probation. The court has the discretion to sentence one to probation of up to five years. In addition to the probation, the defendant must attend a DUI school for a period between eighteen and thirty months.
- When convicted as a second-time offender, a mandatory requirement of installing an IID is required.
Third DUI Offense
A conviction as a third-time offender is also a misdemeanor when no aggravating factors exist. The penalties are even more severe. However, with an experienced Panorama Heights DUI Attorney, you can get these charges or penalties reduced. The penalties for a third-time offender include:
- Paying of cash fines ranging between $390 and $1,000. A hefty assessment fee is also charged, which makes the total amount to $18,000.
- A defendant risks a jail time of not more than a year. However, depending on the circumstances and facts of the offense, a defendant can face state imprisonment for sixteen months.
- The period your driver’s license is suspended is long. The court will suspend three years while the DMV will suspend for a year. Again, when the suspension penalty is multiple, the defendant faces the longest of them. On completing the initial six months of license suspension, the defendant can apply to get a restricted driver’s license. As the name suggests, a restricted license will restrict your driving to work, school, or hospital and back.
- The defendant can also be sentenced to probation lasting between three and five years. In addition, the defendant should complete a DUI school program of thirty months.
- The defendant also faces a mandatory requirement to install an IID in their car for not less than two years.
Fourth DUI Offense
A fourth DUI offense within a period of ten years from your first DUI conviction is charged as a felony. The penalties for a felony DUI are very severe, making it essential to hire a Panorama Heights DUI Attorney to fight against the allegations. If convicted of a fourth DUI offense, the felony penalties are:
- The cash fines increase and can range between $390 and $5,000. This is in addition to hefty penalty assessment fees, bringing the total to $18,000
- If a defendant is sentenced to jail time following a fourth DUI conviction, they will face state imprisonment for sixteen months to three years.
- A felony conviction will lead to a four-year license suspension and in some cases, a permanent suspension.
- A defendant can also be sentenced to formal probation lasting between three and five years. In addition, the defendant will be required to complete a DUI school program that lasts for thirty months.
- A mandatory requirement to install an IID in their car in imposed for three years. This is only possible if the defendant qualifies to get a restricted driver’s license.
- The defendant attains the status of a convicted felon in their record.
A Felony DUI Offense – Causing Bodily Injury
As earlier discussed, normal DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanor offenses unless it is a fourth offense or aggravating factors exist. Some of the aggravating factors that make a DUI offense to be charged as a felony regardless of whether it is a first or second or third offense are causing injuries. When an individual gets injured following a DUI crash, the penalties faced by a defendant are more severe.
The offense of causing injuries, however, is a wobbler. This means the defendant can face misdemeanor or felony charges based on the circumstances of the offense and prior criminal record. The penalties a defendant faces when convicted of this offense are similar to those of a fourth time DUI offender. However, an additional penalty of paying restitution to the victims of the injuries is imposed.
A DUI Offense Leading to a Fatality or Watson Murder
Sometimes a DUI offense can lead to death. This leads to vehicular manslaughter charges against the defendant in addition to the regular DUI offense charges. Some of the charges a defendant may face include:
- PEN 191.5b Vehicular manslaughter due to negligence while intoxicated
- PEN 191.5a Causing a Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while under the influence
- PEN 187 murder in the second degree or Watson murder
- PEN 189 – murder in the second degree.
These are serious charges that require one to hire an experienced Panorama Heights DUI Attorney to fight against. When one is convicted of a Watson murder due to a DUI offense, they will be asked to sign what is known as a Watson Advisement. The form states that a defendant understands one of the consequences of drunk driving is killing or injuring people. The purpose of this form is to have a record that will be used against you should you commit other DUI offenses in the future.
The form helps prove that a defendant acted with willful malice should they face prosecution in the future regarding DUI offenses. This means, should the defendant commit another DUI offense in the future that results in a death, he or she will be prosecuted on second-degree murder.
Aside from the many other penalties, a defendant would face, a DUI resulting in a death can lead to state imprisonment for between one year and twenty-five years. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances of the offense, a defendant can face state imprisonment for life.
The state of California holds in higher standards individuals tasked with driving commercial vehicles as compared to standard drivers. As long as you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), when you commit a DUI offense, it doesn’t matter if at the time you were driving a regular vehicle, the penalties will be stiffer.
The BAC limit for individuals charged with driving commercial vehicles is 0.04%, while for regular drivers is 0.08%. A CDL holder must exercise extra caution because it is not difficult to pass the 0.04% mark while you feel sober.
The consequences discussed earlier for DUI offenses also apply to individuals operating commercial vehicles. However, they face enhanced penalties as outlined here below:
- A first time offender will have their driver’s license suspended for a year
- If you are a second time offender, your commercial driver’s license may be revoked permanently for the rest of your life
- A conviction for drunk driving on a second offense may lead you to lose your job if you are a commercial driver. You cannot qualify for a restricted license once yours is suspended, as well.
- When arrested for a DUI offense, your employer is informed of the arrest in thirty days.
Commercial drivers also face possible imprisonment depending on the violation and the circumstances following the offense. The jail terms may include:
- Imprisonment for three years if you committed the offense while driving a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous or dangerous materials.
- Life imprisonment for any other subsequent violations
- Life imprisonment, if alongside a DUI offense charge, you used your commercial license to carry out another felony such as transporting controlled substances.
Because of the severity of DUI penalties in California, it is essential to engage a top Panorama Heights DUI Attorney to fight for you immediately you are charged.
Additional Consequences when Convicted of a DUI offense in California
Aside from the court penalties, there are other consequences an individual convicted of a DUI offense will face. Some of these include:
- A conviction can lead to a suspension of specific professional licenses, increased insurance premiums as well as other certifications.
- Most DUI convictions require the defendant to install an IDD in their vehicle. This can be inconveniencing and embarrassing to the defendant
- When one is convicted, not only does the insurance costs increase, a conviction triggers SR22 requirements.
- A convicted person may find it challenging to get a job because of a prior record. Most employers may request or do a background check on you and deny you a job due to your conviction. A conviction may also make it hard for you to get housing with landlords, just like potential employers requesting a background check. To find jobs and housing easier, one will be required to apply for expungement of their record.
- For a person seeking college admission or financial aid, a conviction can negatively affect your chances of getting admission or aid.
- A person convicted of a DUI offense is always required to sign a Watson advisement. This is a form that states you are aware of the consequences of driving while under the influence. In case of future charges, this form will be used against you to show you are aware of what you were doing and the consequences.
DUI Offense on a Foreign Citizen
In California, even when you are not a citizen of the United States, you face similar penalties as those of citizens. However, there are additional complications that arise due to your immigration status. If you are a foreigner facing DUI charges, you need to seek a lawyer with expertise in handling DUI charges and any consequences. A Panorama Heights DUI Attorney can help you fight against these allegations and get a favorable outcome.
Some of the consequences that may arise if you are a foreigner include:
Revocation of a Visa
When a person is arrested on DUI charges, their visa may be revoked automatically without giving you a chance to offer your defense. The consular offices may not require to have you convicted of the offense, but simple allegations can result in the revocation. This can happen to students holding student visas such as International F1. Students on an exchange program or scholars can also be affected even when they hold a J1 visa. Even when you are a highly skilled worker, holding an H1B visa, it can also be revoked.
For undocumented immigrants, if charged with a DUI offense, can face deportation. Again, a guilty verdict is not required in this case. As long as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are informed of the offense, one risks deportation.
Deportation of your DUI had Aggravating Factors
When you are a permanent resident or hold a green card, a DUI offense will not lead to deportation. However, if it is categorized as an offense with aggravating factors, it may lead to deportation. Some of the aggravating factors that can result in deportation include:
- Committing a DUI offense when your license is suspended
- If arrested driving while impaired by drugs such as controlled narcotics
- Being convicted of a DUI offense that involves endangering a child
- If you have a record of multiple DUI charges
Common DUI Offenses
When you are arrested for a DUI offense, various charges can be brought against you, depending on the factors of the offense. Some of the likely charges a prosecutor may level against you include:
- VEH 23152a – when one drives intoxicated to a level where their physical and mental abilities are affected, making it difficult to drive as a sober person would.
- VEH 23152b – a prosecutor can charge you with driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more. This offense only requires showing the BAC level of the driver at the time they were arrested at 0.08% and above.
- VEH 23152c – you can be charged with this offense if it is established you are an addict of a particular drug and you drive while intoxicated by it.
- VEH 23152d – these are charges against holders of commercial driver’s license found driving when their BAC level is 0.04% or over
- VEH 23152e – if you are driving a passenger for a hire car and you are arrested while with a passenger driving with a BAC of over 0.04%
- VEH 23152f – these are charges for a person driving while impaired by drugs
- VEH 23152g – when a person is driving intoxicated by both drugs and alcohol, these are the charges brought against them.
Finding a DUI Lawyer Near Me
With all the penalties discussed above, a conviction of a DUI offense can be inconveniencing and at times, detrimental to your life. Fighting these charges is essential if one is to avoid harsh penalties. If facing DUI charges while at Panorama Heights, call us at Orange County DUI Attorney, and we shall help you fight these charges. Reach us on 949-377-2280 and let us make an appointment to take up your case.