21a. An attempt to commit a crimensists of two elements: a specific intent to commit the crime, and a direct but ineffectual act done toward its commission.
PC 21A is California’s universal law against attempting to commit a crime. It applies to any attempted crime, but in the context of DUI law it means that you attempted to drive while either:
- Impaired by any drug or alcohol, or
- Under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more
Being charged with attempted DUI is unusual, but it can happen in two main situations:
- Police detained you before you could drive your vehicle—such as when you put the car in drive but hadn’t pulled away yet.
- You were originally arrested for DUI in a parked car, and the “attempted DUI” charge is being offered as a plea bargain.
What counts as attempted DUI?
In order convict you of any attempted crime, the prosecutor has to show two things:
- Intent. You specifically intended to commit the crime. If you were inebriated at a bar and decided to drive yourself home, that is intent.
- The attempt. You must have actually taken some step toward committing the crime. The law states that it must be a direct step, even if it was an ineffective one.
Let’s use an example to show what counts as attempted DUI and what does not count.
Does not count:
Tom is at a party with friends and has several drinks. As it gets late, he says he needs to get going. A friend says, “You’re not going to drive, are you?” Tom replies that he is. At this point, he has clearly shown intent. But his friends talk him out of it, and he never takes any step to try to drive home.
Does count as attempted DUI:
After Tom’s friends try to talk him out of driving, he tells them he’s fine and heads outside to his car. On the way, an officer sees him fumbling with the keys and approaches to see if he’s alright. The officer soon realizes Tom is intoxicated and planned to drive home—and he was taking steps to do so.
What are the penalties for attempted DUI?
Another section of the California Penal Code, PC 664, states that the penalties for attempted crimes are:
- Half the potential jail or prison sentence for actually committing the crime, and
- Half the potential fine
This makes attempted DUI a much less serious crime than DUI. For example:
- Your jail sentence and fines are halved, and you may never serve jail at all
- There is no requirement to suspend your license
- There is no requirement to go to DUI school or other special DUI penalties
- Your offense does not count as a prior DUI for future arrests
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.