What Happens If You Get Multiple DUIs?
Misdemeanor driving under the influence charges under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC would be the most common even if there were accidents without injury. This statute includes first-offense, second, and third DUI cases within ten years.
Prosecutors use two primary laws to charge someone with DUI. The first is Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, which makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol. The other is Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC, which makes it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. Most people are charged with both of these statutes.
If you are driving under the influence of drugs, then prosecutors will use Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC. California Vehicle Code 23153 VC covers driving under the influence, causing injury or death, and harsh penalties.
To be charged with felony DUI, certain factors must be met. For example, a vehicle accident causing injury or death, a fourth DUI charge within ten years, and getting a DUI with a prior felony conviction. The penalties for multiple DUI offenses are severe.
A first-time DUI conviction is usually a misdemeanor that carries a fine and informal probation for up to five years. Second and third DUIs without aggravating circumstances are also ordinarily a misdemeanor, but the penalties will increase with each conviction.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review this topic more closely below, including a breakdown of how the penalties will increase with each DUI conviction.
What are the First DUI Penalties in California?
California Vehicle Code 23538 VC lays out the punishments for first, second, third, and subsequent DUI offenses. The penalties for a first DUI offense are as follows:
- up to six months in county jail,
- a fine between $390 and $1,000,
- a driver's license suspension of 4 months or longer,
- informal or summary probation for three to five years,
- three or nine months of education program,
- potential installation of an ignition interlock device.
The fees and penalty assessments could increase up to $3,600. The court might also decide to order a vehicle ignition interlock device for six months or suspend your driver's license for six to ten months with some restrictions. You could acquire a restricted driver's license to commute to work and back.
What are the Second DUI Penalties?
California Vehicle Code 23440 VC increases the penalties for a second DUI conviction. The law lays out minimum jail time if the second DUI occurred within ten years of the prior DUI. The punishment for a second DUI are as follows:
- at least 96 hours in county jail and up to one year in jail,
- fines not less than $390 or over $1,000, but the court will usually impose a more significant fine than the first DUI,
- mandatory eighteen or thirty months of DUI school, and
- vehicle ignition interlock device for one year on their vehicle, or
- two-year driver's license suspension can be modified to a restricted license after one year.
Fees and penalty assessments could increase up to $4,000. The consequences of driving under the influence generally rise with each conviction within ten years.
The 10-year period also applies to California wet reckless convictions and out-of-state DUI convictions if they were committed here.
What are the Third DUI Penalties?
California Vehicle Code 23546 VC lays out the increased penalties for a third DUI within ten years of the prior two and includes minimum jail time. The penalties are as follows:
- at least 120 days in county jail and not more than one year,
- fines are the same between $390 and $1,000 for a third offense but are more significant with each offense,
- mandatory thirty months of DUI school, and
- vehicle ignition interlock device for two years, or your license will be suspended for three years,
- suspended license can be modified to restricted after 18 months,
- habitual traffic offender designation by the California DMV.
Fees and penalty assessments could increase to up to $18,000.
What are the Penalties for Four or More DUIs?
California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC makes the fourth or more DUI a felony if there are three or more prior DUI convictions within ten years of the new DUI crime.
The prosecution can count DUI convictions in California, convictions in other states, and plea-bargained convictions of Vehicle Code 123103 VC when the defendant was under the influence. A felony DUI or multiple prior DUI convictions carry the following penalties:
- up to sixteen months in a California state prison,
- fee and fines and fees totaling up to $18,000,
- thirty months in a DUI school,
- driver's license suspension up to four years,
- mandatory vehicle ignition interlock device, and
- probation for up to five years.
A fourth or more DUI conviction will typically result in some time in jail. California Vehicle Code 23550.5 VC elevates a misdemeanor DUI to a felony when they have a felony DUI conviction. The penalties are similar to a felony fourth DUI offense.
What are the Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing?
The penalties listed above assume there are no aggravating circumstances that could increase them. Under California law, there are numerous aggravating circumstances potentially increasing the punishments, including the following:
- blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher,
- refusal of submitting to a breath or blood chemical test,
- DUI for an underage (21) defendant,
- DUI with an accident causing serious injury or death,
- DUI with reckless driving such as excessive-high speed; and
- DUI with a child under 14 as a passenger in the vehicle.
What are the Conditions of DUI Probation?
When a judge imposes a sentence for a DUI conviction, it will usually include probation that has specific terms and conditions that must be followed, including;
- you are prohibited from committing any new crimes,
- you are prohibited from driving with any amount of alcohol in your blood,
- you are prohibited from refusing a chemical test of breath or blood if arrested for a new DUI charge,
- attend a victim impact program at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),
- attend meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA),
- attend meetings at Narcotics Anonymous (NA) if drugs were involved,
- payment of restitution to any victims of your DUI case.
If you don't follow the terms and conditions imposed by the judge, you could be facing a DUI probation violation that carries even more penalties.
What are Alternative Sentencing Options for a DUI?
The phrase “alternative sentencing options” means things you can do rather than serving jail time in a county jail or state prison after a conviction for driving under the
influence. At your sentencing hearing, a judge could impose the items listed below as jail alternatives:
- complete some community service hours,
- Cal-Trans work hours on the roadside picking up trash,
- house arrest,
- electronic monitoring,
- reside in a sober-living home,
- serve time in private jail of choice.
Your criminal defense attorney must know all the potential sentencing options to keep you out of jail, especially if you were arrested for driving under the influence with a prior DUI conviction. Negotiation with the prosecutor for a favorable outcome might be possible.
Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles County, and you can reach our law firm for an initial consultation by calling (877) 781-1570 or filling out our contact form.