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DUI Penalities

There is a dizzying list of mandatory and optional penalties associated with DUI. What can happen depends upon varying issues; where you are convicted, how many priors you have, whether the charge was reduced to a lesser offense etc...

Firstly, crimes are divided into two main categories:

  • Misdemeanors- any crime punishable up to 1 year in the County Jail.
  • Felonies- any crime punishable at least one year in the State Prison.

Felony- (23153(a) and 23153 (b) CVC)- there are 3 ways to make a DUI a felony:

  1. Four or More DUI's- A new DUI where you have at least 3 DUI or Wet Reckless prior convictions within the last 10 years.
  2. Injury- Any DUI where a traffic accident occurs, causing injury to another.
  3. Prior Felony DUI- a new DUI where you were convicted within the past 10 years of a felony DUI.

Prison ranges from 16 months to 3 years for felonies, generally; But this may be reduced to a Misdemeanor or 'wobbled' down to County Jail Penalties.

Misdemeanor- 23152(a) and 23152 (b) CVC- All other DUI cases that do not factually qualify in the felony section above.

In both charges the 'a' count (23152, 23153(a)) is basically driving while impaired drugs, alcohol or both. You don't even need .08%...it can be as low as .05% to prosecute. The 'b' count is the .08% statute. There is also driving a commercial vehicle- .04% alcohol level and driving under 21 .05% alcohol.

Mandatory Penalties for misdemeanor DUI:

First DUI:

Jail: min. none/max. 6 months County Jail

Fines $390-$1000.00 plus penalty assessment taxes and fees.

Probation 3-5 years

0-30 day vehicle impound

Alcohol School- 3, 6 or 9 month program.

Second DUI(Prior may be wet reckless)- same as above except:

Jail: Min. 96 hours/Max. 1 year County Jail

18 month alcohol school

0-90 day vehicle impound

Interlock Device- breath machine in your car to start and drive.

Third DUI- (priors can be DUI or wet reckless):

Jail: Min. 120 days/max. 1 year County Jail or 30 days County Jail and 30 month alcohol school (Court Approval required).

Vehicle forfeiture

Popular Optional Penalties available to the Prosecutor:

1. HAM- Hospital/Morgue Program (2 days)

2. VIPP- Victim Impact Program (MADD meeting)

3. Community Service

4. Cal Trans Work Service/Graffiti Removal

5. AA meetings

Enhancements- certain facts in a case can boost the minimum jail time:

  1. Non-Injury Traffic Collision- negotiable
  2. Excessive Speed or Reckless Driving- 60 days County Jail Minimum mandatory.
  3. Under aged Passenger- 14 or under 96 hours of jail minimum
  4. 15% or greater alcohol level 48 hours generally (negotiable)
  5. Refusal/Failure to complete- chemical test- 48 hours jail minimum
  6. Unlicensed Driver- 48 hours minimum mandatory.

Some of these penalties are negotiable between your attorney and the prosecutor and they can change depending upon whether the charges are reduced to lesser charges as part of a plea negotiation.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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