California DUI Penalties
For the most part, most of the US states have more or less similar penalties for the synonymous, “driving under influence” (DUI) or “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) convictions. However, the state of California has a wide variety of penalties depending on varying circumstances of the case.
The Golden State is Tough
The drunk driving conviction in California state follows a structure heavily relying on the degree of offense where intoxication levels play a major role in sentencing. DUIs may be a result of drugs, alcohol or both. The Blood Alcohol Concentration test is used as a means to determine the degree of intoxication which also helps set guidelines for convictions to be charged as DUIs. The first offense usually entails a basic four-day jail time which may be stretched out to six months depending on the severity of the circumstances, assuming no physical harm or death resulted in the misdemeanor. It can result in fines in excess of one thousand dollars with license suspension ranging from one month to a year. Vehicle impounding expenses may also add to the penalty as well as cost for installation of the “interlock breath device” which denies ignition if there is alcohol detected in the breath.
The fines or penalties resulting from these sentences carry two separate fines. The first is a basic fine as defined in the laws while the second is based on the penalty assessment and any damages resulting from the incident. The second offense results in a comparatively lenient jail time sentence ranging from ten days up to a year where the fines can be inflated as far as eighteen hundred dollars. This offense leads to a two-year suspension of license which may in some cases be reduced to one. Again, this requires breathalyzer installation in the car which adds up to the overall fine.
1-DUI – 2 – DUI – 3 – DUI – Floor
In terms of penalties, the third offense maintains the same threshold as the previous offense but minimum jail time increases to one twenty days with a limit of a year. The license suspension duration rises up to three years. The state has a look back period of ten years which means any past convictions in the previous ten years may be taken into account at the time of sentencing. This law adds to the fourth and final offense where a stricter approach is taken in sentencing. The jail time is a minimum of sixteen months coupled with fines which may extend up to eighteen thousand dollars and license suspension of four years in case the incident occurs within ten months of a previous offense. A fourth violation may also result in forfeiture and loss of vehicle.
In case of injury or death resulting from the incident, the driver can be convicted as a felon and sent to state prison for at least a year up to five years based on previous history of offenses. Prior convictions within a ten-year period leading up to a fourth offense could have the driver charged with a felony even if there was no accident as a result of the offense. In any case, the defendant should always consult a DUI attorney to handle the case. The attorney must be experienced in this field and details of the case should be communicated to the attorney before taking any steps.