What You Need to Know
If you’re facing your second DUI offense, you should be aware that the consequences are dramatically more serious than they were during your first offense. Virtually all penalties, from jail time and fines to license suspension and DUI classes, will increase the second time around. Judges are also less lenient with repeat DUI offenders. You need to understand the penalties you face and the defenses available to you.
What counts as a second-time DUI?
If you have any previous DUI conviction on your record in the past 10 years, it will count as a “prior” DUI, making this your second offense. Certain other offenses, like wet reckless, also count as a prior DUI for this purpose. On the other hand, DUI arrests (that did not result in conviction) do not count. The 10-year window goes back from the date of your arrest.
Just as in a first time DUI, your second DUI will be handled by two different processes: the California DMV and the criminal justice system. Each comes with penalties.
What are the administrative (DMV) penalties for a second offense DUI?
Just as with a first DUI, the DMV will suspend your license automatically if you do not request a hearing within 10 days of getting the suspension notice (usually this means within 10 days of your arrest). Penalties related to this suspension include:
- Your license will be suspended for at least one year
- If you are able to apply for “restricted” driving privileges at all, you will have to wait three months to do so
- To reinstate your license or get a restricted license, you will need to carry expensive SR-22 insurance
The DMV can enforce this suspension starting just 10 days after your arrest—even if you have not been convicted yet. Do not fall victim to it. The best thing you can do to improve your immediate circumstances is to request a DMV hearing immediately.
You have rights in the DMV hearing:
- You can be represented in the hearing by an attorney.
- You can request an in-person hearing rather than one done over the phone. This is usually to your advantage.
- You can require that the officer who arrested you attend the hearing and answer questions. This can not only help your DMV case, it could also expose weaknesses you can use in your criminal defense as well.
- If you request a hearing, the DMV cannot suspend your license until the hearing is over. This can buy you months of breathing room while you handle your criminal defense. In some cases you may end up not facing any suspension at all.
The best way to face the DMV process is to have a DUI defense lawyer representing you.
What are the criminal penalties for a second DUI?
The penalties include:
- Mandatory jail sentence of at least 96 hours in jail. Unlike a first time DUI, this cannot usually be waived. Instead of 6 months, the maximum jail sentence is 1 year.
- A fine of $390 to $1000. However, the court will also add “penalty assessments” which will raise your total to approximately $2,000. In many second DUIs, the cost soars much higher than this.
- You will be required to attend a much longer set of DUI classes, ranging from 18 to 30 months of classes.
- You will be on DUI probation for 3-5 years and you are likely to face alcohol treatment, drug treatment or other court-ordered penalties (see below).
- You will be required to install an interlock device on your car. These devices are expensive and require you to give a breath sample at random times while driving or the car will shut off.
- Your DUI will remain on your record for 10 years. During that time, if you have another DUI arrests it will count as your third offense—which brings you dangerously close to a felony DUI.
As with any DUI, you will face additional penalties if you refused to take a breath/blood/urine test, if your blood alcohol was very high, if you hurt anyone, or if there are other aggravating circumstances in your case.
What is probation like for a second DUI? Do I have to go to AA?
The penalties listed above are the bare minimum for a second DUI. Judges haves a lot of discretion in assigning additional penalties as part of your DUI probation, especially if they think you have not learned your lesson.
This can include:
- Being ordered not to drink at all.
- Being ordered to attend AA sessions or another alcohol treatment or drug treatment group. You will be required to document your attendance and prove to the court that you went.
- Being committed to rehab.
- Being sent to special programs to “scare you straight,” such as those hosted by the organization MADD which confront you with people who have lost loved ones to drunk driving.
- Having to wear a SCRAM bracelet that detects whether you have alcohol in your system.
If you fail to uphold any of these conditions, it will be considered a violation of probation and you can face additional jail time and other consequences.
Is it possible to beat a second time DUI?
Yes. Repeat DUI cases are dropped or won all the time, sometimes even when there is substantial evidence against the driver. Prosecutors and judges are less likely to be lenient with repeat DUI offenders, but there are several defense strategies that can work:
- Challenging the validity of the breath test, blood test or urine test results
- Challenging whether the arrest was legal
- The “no driving” defense
There are dozens of other ways that DUI defense lawyers win second-time DUI cases.
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.