California DUI Laws, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Offense

What You Should Know: California DUI Laws, Punishments, First, Second, Third Offense, Misdemeanor, and Felony

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs (commonly referred to as a DUI, DWI, or drunk driving) is a serious and dangerous crime that can hurt or ruin your life and trying to get answers on the penalties and sentences of California DUI laws can lead down a road of confusion. DUI laws in California can be severe. If you have been charged with a DUI in California you should immediately contact and secure a lawyer who can help you understand the charges against you and how to deal with them.

California DUI penalties can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Your DUI qualifies as a misdemeanor if you are a first time offender and if you didn’t injure or kill anyone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nor did you damage any property while doing so. However, if you are a repeat offender with multiple DUI convictions on your record (for instance, if you have 3 DUI convictions within the past 7 years), you can be charged with a felony. You can also be charged with a DUI felony if your actions caused a serious injury or death of anyone.

The consequences of your DUI will depend on what type of DUI it was, if it was a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense, if it was a misdemeanor or a felony, and if there were any injuries involved. Listed below you will find a breakdown of the consequences for each of those situations.

*Whether or not your DUI is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, you should seek a California criminal defense attorney to defend your case in court. The California DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, Inc., are experienced in working with California drunk driving laws and penalties, and can provide you with professional legal advice regarding your individual situation and how best to address it.

1st Offense Misdemeanor DUI in California

If this is your first DUI in California, you are potentially facing the following penalties:

  • Informal (otherwise known as “summary”) probation for 3-5 years
  • Up to 6 months in a county jail
  • Between $390-$1,000 in fines
  • A 3 or 9 month court-approved alcohol and/or drug education program
  • A 6-10 month driver’s license suspension – may be converted to a restricted license*

*Restricted licenses let you drive to and from work, school, and/or a California DUI school.

2nd Offense Misdemeanor DUI in California

If this is your second DUI in California within a 10 year period, you are automatically looking at more severe penalties, as follows:

  • 3-5 years of summary probation
  • A minimum of 96 hours to a maximum of 1 year in a county jail
  • Between $390-$1,000 in fines
  • Completion of an 18-month or 30-month court-approved California DUI school
  • Your driver’s license suspended for 2 years – after 12 months, it may be converted to a restricted license

3rd Offense Misdemeanor DUI in California

If this is your third DUI conviction within a 10 year period, the potential DUI penalties in California are as listed below:

  • Between 3-5 years of informal probation
  • A minimum of 120 days to a maximum of 1 year in a county jail
  • Between $390-$1,000 in fines
  • Completion of a 30-month court-approved DUI education program
  • Your California driver’s license revoked for 3 years – after 18 months it may be converted to a restricted license
  • Designation as an “habitual traffic offender” (HTO) by the DMV

California DUI Laws : Misdemeanors and Felonies with Injury

If you injured someone other than yourself during your DUI, according to California alcohol laws you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Everything depends on the circumstances of your arrest and your criminal history.

California Misdemeanor DUI with injury

  • 3-5 years of summary probation
  • 5 days to 1 year in a county jail
  • $390-$5,000 in fines
  • A 3, 18, or 30-month alcohol program
  • A 1-3 year driver’s license restriction
  • Restitution to all injured parties

California Felony DUI with injury

  • 16 months to 10 years in the California State Prison and an additional and consecutive 1-6 year prison sentence, depending on how many people you injured and the extent of their injuries
  • A possible “strike” on your record pursuant to California’s Three Strike’s Law
  • Between $1,015-$5,000 in fines
  • An 18 to 30-month alcohol/drug program
  • Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status for 3 years
  • Restitution to all injured parties

California Felony DUI

A felony is the most serious charge of which you can be convicted. This can happen if you are convicted of more than 4 DUI’s within a 10 year period. Here are the consequences:

  • 16 months, or 2-3 years in the California State Prison
  • Between $390-$1,000 in fines
  • A 4 year California driver’s license revocation
  • Designation as an “HTO” by the DMV

DUI penalties in California differ pertaining to DUIs that result in death. If your DUI caused the death of someone, you may be looking at lifetime imprisonment and a strike on your record, in accordance with California’s Three Strikes Law.

Remember, DUI charges in California may vary depending on what county you live in or in what county you receive your DUI conviction. No matter what California DUI laws you were arrested for breaking, you only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This will keep your license from being suspended until your hearing has been resolved and it is possible that it will keep your license from being suspended at all.

Hiring a DUI attorney right away will enable your lawyer to request that hearing for you and then represent you at the hearing, increasing your chances to get your sentence reduced if possible.

Getting Help

If you have been charged with a DUI in CA of any kind, you are probably feeling frustrated, scared, embarrassed, or a number of other emotions. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to deal with the situation on your own. We have some of the best DUI lawyers in California who know exactly what to do and how to best help you with your situation.

Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you. Our attorneys will get the details of your case and give you an outline of what you can expect to happen during the court process. Our lawyers at the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, Inc. will provide you with professional legal representation in any court proceedings, work with the DMV to address your license suspension issues, and scrutinize the police reports and evidence against you to find any possible inconsistencies, illegalities or inaccuracies surrounding your arrest and the charges against you.

No matter what your situation is, the California criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, Inc. are dedicated to helping your charges get reduced or dropped entirely so you can continue living your life. Please contact us today for more information on California DUI laws and a free case evaluation.