If you are convicted of Misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in California (Vehicle Code 23152 – Research the Law) and it is your first DUI, you face up to six months in jail. Judges will usually grant Probation and put you in jail for anywhere from 48 hours to ten days or more, depending upon the facts of your case and the county where you are prosecuted. You will be ordered to attend a DUI education school at your expense; pay substantial fines and fees; and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your license to drive, often before you go to court if you are simply arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Understanding the potential legal consequences of a conviction and the possible DMV consequences is essential when you are charged with an Alcohol DUI.
What If This is My Second or Third DUI?
If you are convicted for a second Misdemeanor Alcohol DUI within ten years of your first DUI conviction, you will face up to one year in jail. Again, depending upon the specific facts of your case and your history, Judges will usually grant Probation but will put you in jail for a much longer time than you would serve for a first-time DUI. You will again pay substantial fines and fees, and attend an alcohol education class that lasts 18 months or longer. The DMV will suspend your license to drive for one year for a second-time DUI, and then make it very difficult (and expensive) to get a restricted license no matter how much you need one. If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol a third-time, you will likely spend a very long time in jail and lose your license to drive for years.
What is a Felony Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol?
A fourth DUI within 10 years is a Felony in California; if you are convicted of Felony Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol you face up to three years in Prison. You can also be charged with a Felony DUI in any case where you have an accident and someone is injured, even a first-time DUI, and if someone is killed because of your DUI you could spend Life in prison. Judges will sometimes grant probation in a felony case, but you will likely spend a substantial amount of time in jail or treatment as a condition of probation. The DMV consequences will probably not be your biggest concern at that point, but you should be aware that you will lose your license to drive for one or more years if you are convicted of a Felony DUI. Additionally, you will not be able to vote or possess a firearm, even a hunting weapon.
What Are the Sentencing Options?
The Sentencing Judge in your Alcohol DUI is always faced with sentencing options in your case. Although it varies greatly from county to county, hard work in Rehabilitation Programs can often result in a better sentence or a better recommendation from the District Attorney’s office. Similarly, many Courts will follow the rules in the Vehicle Code (some don’t) that allow the substitution of a residential rehabilitation program instead of jail. If you are convicted of a standard Felony DUI the Judge can grant you Probation or send you to State Prison for 16 months, two years, or three years depending upon your case and your history. If it turns out that you should resolve your case instead of fighting it, you should understand all possible ways to minimize your sentence.
What Are the Possible Lesser Charges for a DUI?
The Vehicle Code and Penal Code contain numerous alternative charges that District Attorneys will sometimes offer to settle a case. This usually happens when there are problems with the evidence, for example when a breath or blood sample is taken a long time after the alleged driving, or your blood-alcohol level that is at or near the legal limit when you are stopped or tested , or there are problems proving that you drove. Often such cases will settle for an Alcohol-Related Reckless driving (a “Wet Reckless”), a “Dry Reckless,” or even a Drunk in Public charge, depending upon the facts of your case.
How Do I Fight a DUI?
There are many possible defenses to Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol depending upon the specific facts of each case. For example, you may be able to fight the reason why you were stopped or arrested in the first place; you may have been arrested even though you weren’t drunk when you were driving; and there are often flaws in conclusions drawn by law enforcement, and inherent inaccuracy in the equipment and methods used to test your breath or blood. If you do not want to plead guilty or no contest then you are entitled to a trial and you can either have a court trial (where a Judge decides if you’re guilty – that’s usually a bad idea), or a Jury Trial where twelve people from the community hear and see the evidence in your case and then decide whether the State has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Why Hire a Lawyer?
An Experienced DUI Attorney can get you through the Court Process, try to protect your driver’s license at the DMV, and accurately assess the facts and evidence in your case (both good and bad), and then advise you about how to proceed. In many cases your attorney can argue for a lesser charge or, if you are charged with a Felony, argue to reduce your case from a Felony DUI to a misdemeanor. If you are charged with having a prior DUI, your prior convictions can sometimes be set aside or stricken for purposes of sentencing and that can have a significant impact in the amount of time you spend in jail. An experienced DUI Lawyer will also be able to advise you about treatment options and alternative sentencing in the County where you are prosecuted. If the DA makes an unreasonable offer or won’t listen to your side if what happened, an Experienced DUI Attorney will be able to fight your case in a jury trial.
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