When someone is arrested for a DUI, one of their first thoughts is, “Will I have to go back to jail?”
For many arrests, the answer is no. But, that does not mean that those arrested for DUIs will not face heavy penalties upon conviction.
Below are five types categories of penalties for DUI convictions in California. All DUI convictions will result in probation.
1. First Time DUI Convictions Can Result In Just Probation
A first time DUI conviction that does not result in an accident or property damage is a misdemeanor under California law.
That means probation can likely be negotiated in lieu of a jail sentence or in conjunction with a short jail sentence that may be completed through participation in a work program.
Probation periods for first time DUIs can rage up to five years, and they involve many different elements.
For example, the person convicted will have to pay various fines and fees which can total thousands of dollars. These include court fees, penalties, probation fees, and license fees.
In addition, those convicted of a first time DUI will likely be required to go to an alcohol education class, which can range from three to nine months and must be paid for by the defendant.
Also, the conviction will result in a suspension of the driver’s license. Usually, there is a “hard suspension” which lasts for 30 days, in which the defendant is not allowed to drive at all.
After the hard suspension period lapses, the defendant will likely have to drive on a restricted license, which allows him to drive to and from work or school and on some necessary errands (such as driving to an alcohol education program).
If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was high, or if the judge determines it is in the person’s best interest, the defendant may also have to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.
An ignition interlock device is a mechanical device which requires that the driver blow into it before starting the vehicle and periodically while the vehicle is running to detect whether there is alcohol present in the driver’s breath.
2. Second Time DUI Offenders Have A High Probability Of Facing Jail Time
Second time DUI offenders face all the same penalties as first time DUI offenders and more.
Second time offenders may have to go to jail for a brief sentence, and they will also have to complete many of the same steps outlined above, such as a DUI repeat offender/alcohol education class, payment of fees, a longer license suspension period, and a requirement to install an interlock device.
Jail time for a second DUI can range from 10 days to one year, or the judge may allow an agreement in which the defendant goes to jail for a short period of time then completes a subsequent probationary period.
3. Third And Subsequent DUIs Will Result In Jail Time
While there are some exceptions, in most cases those convicted of three or more DUIs will face some jail time.
For a third DUI, possible jail time is 120 days to one year, while a fourth DUI will result in up to three months prison.
Along with increased jail time, subsequent offenders face higher fees and longer drivers’license suspensions (up to 4 years).
Subsequent offenders also must complete extended DUI offender/alcohol education programs, which can last for up to 30 months, and they must keep an ignition interlock device on their vehicle at all times until the probationary period is complete.
4. DUIs Which Involve Accidents Or Injuries Can Be Felonies
While many DUIs are misdemeanors, a DUI which results in an accident or injury can be considered a felony, and as such, those convicted of such DUIs face heavy penalties.
Most likely, the defendant will face possible prison time, and be subject to heavy fines as well as all the provisions outlined above (ignition interlock devices, alcohol education classes, etc.).
5. There Are Many Other Penalties For A DUI Besides What Is Written In The Statutes
While California laws outline the penalties imposed by the court for DUIs, there are many other penalties which can result from a conviction.
For example, professional licenses may be suspended or revoked, and the person convicted could lose their job if they work in certain fields such as those which require driving a company vehicle, holding a CDL, or teaching.
In addition, searching for jobs in the future may be more difficult after facing a conviction, and those convicted will also lose a lot of time and money dealing with the consequences.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) stops are serious. While a DUI arrest can have serious consequences to one’s personal and professional life if it leads to an arrest, there are some things that can be done before and during a stop which may help change the outcome.
1. Have A Polite Demeanor
No one enjoys being pulled over by the police, and it is a natural reaction to feel frustrated or defensive if accused of a DUI.
However, those that are stopped will have an easier experience with officers if they try to maintain composure during the stop. The officer is likely recording the transaction, and he or she will fill out a report regarding the behavior of the driver.
Therefore, an individual pulled over for a suspected DUI should turn the radio down, pull over when being followed by the police, and refrain from drawing negative attention to oneself by being disrespectful.
2. Drivers Can Prepare For A DUI Stop
When police lights begin flashing behind a vehicle, the driver likely feels nervous and pressured. During a DUI stop, there are a few steps that the driver can take to minimize the interaction with the police.
First, the driver can roll the windows down. Many times, even consuming a single alcoholic beverage can leave the smell of alcohol on one’s breath. When a person is in a confined space, such as a vehicle, the scent can fill up the air quickly. Rolling down a window before an officer approaches the driver’s window can reduce the scent of alcohol in the car.
In addition, it is important that the driver follow all traffic laws, such as signaling lane changes before pulling over for the stop.
3. Drivers Do Not Have To Answer Questions
Although it is advisable to be polite to police, drivers do not have to answer questions.
During DUI stops, officers often ask the driver where they were, how much they were drinking, etc. While there are some ways these questions can be answered which may help a DUI case, the best option is for the driver to politely decline to answer any questions.
This goes against most people’s instincts, especially if they are not intoxicated. Some drivers may believe that if they are not intoxicated, they should not have any problems answering questions and that they can easily talk themselves out of an arrest.
Unfortunately, once an officer pulls over an individual and begins asking alcohol-related questions, he likely has reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated. Talking often times only gives the officer more evidence that can be used against the driver at trial.
Also, a driver is not legally obligated to answer questions by the police, so there is no harm done in politely refusing to do so.
4. After A Driver Is Arrested For A DUI, He May Be Required To Provide A Specimen Sample
There are two types of tests conducted for DUI arrests – field sobriety exercises and specimen test.
A field sobriety exercise is conducted at the place of the traffic stop, and it consists of several physical exercises to determine whether the driver’s motor or cognitive skills have been affected by the use of alcohol.
The last field sobriety exercise is typically a breath test. These exercises may be refused by the driver, including the initial breath test.
However, once you are arrested you must provide a specimen test or there will be consequences to your driver’s license.
Drivers arrested for suspected DUIs are asked to consent to either a blood, breath or urine test, which is used to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or the amount of alcohol present in the driver’s body at the time of the arrest.
While the suspect has the right to refuse these tests, there are some consequences for doing so, such as an automatic suspended license. In addition, the officer may be able to obtain a warrant to draw the driver’s blood against their consent.
5. There Are Defenses Available For Those Arrested Under Suspicion Of A DUI
While those who have been arrested for a DUI may believe that the officers collected enough evidence to convict them of DUI, there are always defenses available.
An experienced lawyer can review the footage of the stop to determine whether the officer had probable cause to conduct the stop. He can also determine whether the officers followed protocol in conducting the field sobriety tests and collecting any specimen samples.
Most people arrested for a first time DUI can get probation instead of jail time.
However, probation includes many requirements that must be completed successfully before the defendant can be released from the probation term. One of those requirements is a DUI Class.
1. What Is A DUI Class?
DUI classes, also known as Alcohol Education Courses or other names, are required of individuals convicted of a DUI (whether first, second, or subsequent) as well as those convicted of wet reckless charges.
DUI classes are exactly what they sound like – mandatory classes intended to teach students about the dangers of using alcohol and drugs while driving.
The courses also have an element of substance abuse counseling.
The court mandates these classes with the hope that those who are arrested for DUIs can face any substance abuse issues they may have, and use the courses to understand the dangers involved with drinking and driving and hopefully avoid repeating the same actions in the future.
2. How Long Do Classes Last?
The duration of a DUI class depends on two factors:
1.) How many prior DUI arrests one has, and;
2.) The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) the driver had at the time of the arrest.
For first-time offenders, there are three class options:
1.) A three-month, 30-hour course, or;
2.) A six-month, 44-hour course, or;
3.) A nine-month, 60 hour course
The course assigned depends on the BAC of the driver.
For those with multiple convictions, the length of the class increases significantly. Second time offenders generally have to complete an 18-month program, while third and subsequent offenders usually have to attend a 30-month program.
3. How Much Do DUI Classes Cost?
DUI Classes can be expensive, and they have to be paid for by the student.
First time programs range from $300 - $600, and the prices go up for longer programs.
A certificate of completion will not be issued until the classes are complete, which means that the defendant cannot be released from probation until the class is fully paid for.
4. What Happens During DUI Courses?
No one attends a DUI course until they are required to, so it is natural to have lots of uncertainty about what happens during the courses.
During each course, whether it is a three month program or a thirty month program, students will receive traditional education, group counseling, and individual counseling.
The education component of the course is structured to give basic facts about drinking and driving, how alcohol affects the body, statistics of drug and alcohol-related accidents, and other information related to alcohol and substance abuse and driving under the influence.
The group counseling component is more of a discussion-based group. The structure or formality of the session will depend on the instructor. Some choose to lead with specific discussion topics, while others may have students watch a film and discuss their thoughts about it.
There are many variations of group therapy, but they are all designed to make the student connect with others in similar situations and help each other through the process of the conviction and healing.
Individual sessions are held with the student and licensed counselor one-on-one. These are usually held less frequently than group therapy sessions.
Individual sessions allow the student to discuss any substance abuse issues with a counselor and talk about issues they may not be comfortable discussing in a classroom with other students.
The individual counselor is usually the one tasked with writing a letter to the court or probation officer if necessary to report on the progress of the defendant during the classes.
Those who are arrested for DUI face driver’s license suspensions along with the other consequences.
• Administrative Suspension
After a DUI arrest, most individuals risk having their driver’s license suspended, possibly twice: once for an administrative suspension, and once for a criminal suspension.
The administrative suspension: When someone is arrested on suspicion of a DUI, the clock starts ticking. Only ten days are given to request a hearing to contest the suspension of a license after an arrest. If the hearing is not requested, then 30 days after the arrest, the license is suspended for 4 months if the driver consented to a blood or breath test, and one year if the driver refused the test.
If the hearing is not requested before the time allotted, then the driver’s license is automatically suspended. If the arrestee requests a hearing, however, the suspension is delayed until the hearing takes place and a final order is given by the judge presiding over the hearing. Sometimes, an attorney can prevent the driver’s license from being suspended during these hearings.
This suspension is called an “administrative suspension” because it is not under the jurisdiction of a court. Rather, the DMV is in charge of the suspension. It is also important to note that if a chemical test comes back with a result that is below .08%, the DMV will not automatically suspend the license.
• Criminal Conviction
The second type of suspension is a criminal suspension. This goes into effect after someone is convicted of a DUI, either by trial or as part of a plea arrangement. Unlike the administrative suspension, this suspension cannot be challenged by a hearing. It is a statutory punishment, and therefore it is a mandatory punishment.
In order to avoid the criminal conviction, the driver must either avoid a DUI conviction altogether by getting a “not guilty” verdict at trial, or the charge must be reduced to a lesser-offense than DUI which does not include a mandatory license suspension.
• Probationary License
Those with suspended licenses still have to make it to and from work, school, and to other obligations. Once a license is suspended, some drivers can apply for a restricted license.
For administrative suspensions, if the driver took a chemical test upon arrest, they can apply for a restricted license 30 days after the suspension. That means that for the first 30 days of suspension, their right to drive is completely suspended. If the driver refused to take a chemical test after the arrest, the driver cannot apply for a restricted license, meaning that they must wait the full 12 months before they can have driving privileges reinstated.
For criminal suspensions, drivers can apply for a restricted license right away. There is no waiting period.
Restricted licenses mean that drivers have permission to drive to and from work and school and to all probation-related errands, such as drug and alcohol classes, DMV safety classes, and probation appointments. Drivers that drive to unnecessary places, such as social events, on a restricted license face charges for probation violations as well as a full license suspension without the opportunity to obtain a restricted license.
• SR22 Insurance Requirement
An SR22 is a special proof of financial responsibility that is monitored by the state. Car insurance companies can grant SR22s upon request. Before obtaining a restricted license, the Department of Motor Vehicles require drivers to obtain an SR22 and provide proof of the coverage throughout the duration of the suspended license.
Contact Attorney Shivers Today
After being arrested for a DUI, time is of the essence. There are only 10 days allotted to request a hearing to fight an administrative license suspension. In order to avoid a lengthy suspension and going through the hassle of obtaining an SR22 and a restricted license, it is imperative that those faced with DUI charges obtain an attorney as soon as possible to represent them at the hearing.
It is also crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to get the best defense available. An experienced DUI attorney can review all of the evidence presented by the officers and prosecuting attorney and take steps to get the case or particular pieces of evidence excluded altogether.
There is no time to wait. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI conviction, contact the offices of Charles H. Shivers today at 831-751-1667 for a free consultation.