An Overview of DUI Charges in California

Drinking and driving is never a good idea – your motor functions are likely impaired even if you choose not to admit it and you are endangering yourself and others around you. However, drunk driving in California is a particularly bad idea due to the stringent laws. So, not only are you endangering yourself and others, you also risk quite steep sentences.

Criminal defense attorneys at Monder Criminal Lawyer Group deal with DUI charges quite often, so they know the ins and outs of the charge and the potential sentences. If you don’t, here is a broad overview of what to expect from a DUI charge in California.

Three Strikes

As most states in the US, California has the three strikes penalty system, where the first offense will likely result in a milder sentence, with the second being more severe, and the third (and every subsequent) will result in a maximum sentence.

The reasoning is that the system deems you a repeat offender and in the eyes of the law, you haven’t learned your lesson from the first two sentences. While this law certainly makes sense in certain cases, it does have its detractors, too. They argue that former convicts are often pushed to the margins of society, drawing them back to the criminal activity.

That being said, DUI charges tend to be described as a matter of personal responsibility, which they largely are.

First-Time DUI Offense

If you are getting your first DUI sentence, the law is going to be fairly lenient to you, provided nobody was injured due to your drunk driving. You can expect a combined sentence of around $1000, a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 6 months in a county jail, a suspended license for at least 4 months, and an obligatory alcohol education program lasting several months.

Depending on the judge and the severity of your offence, you may get all or just some of these different forms of punishment, if found guilty.

Second-Time DUI Offense

If you’re charged with a second DUI in the span of 10 years, the sentences are significantly stricter. The fine is likely to remain the same, up to $2000, but the jail time becomes mandatory and lasts at least 96 hours, and can go up to a full year. The obligatory alcohol education program is also prolonged, to as much as 30 months.

Your summary probation will last for three to five years, and your license might get suspended for up to two years. The judge might combine these sentences with an ignition interlock device if they deem that you are likely to repeat your behavior for the third time.

Third-Time DUI Offense

The third DUI conviction in the span of 10 years is going to land you in jail for anywhere between 120 days and a full year, along with a fine of $2000. Your license is likely to be suspended for two years, or even 3 years if you reject an ignition interlock device.

The alcohol education program will be prolonged to full 30 months. Seeing how this is the third DUI charge, the judge is probably less likely to be lenient and you may expect to feel the full force of the repercussions with jail time and the suspension of your license.

What Can You Do?

If you are facing a DUI charge, your best bet is to find a skilled attorney who can mitigate the situation and get you a reduced or alternative sentence, like community service, house arrest, or a reduced sentence in a county or city jail.

Seeing how these sentences only describe the simplest misdemeanor cases without injuries to others, you should be aware that the sentences can only be more severe if there are additional aggravating circumstances. So, make sure you don’t drink and drive.



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