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. The more you know about what a second offense DUI entails in California, the better prepared you can be to fight against your charges.
What Constitutes a Second Offense DUI?
If you have any previous DUI conviction on your record in the past ten 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.
Like 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 its own unique set of penalties.
What Are the Administrative Penalties for a Second Offense DUI?
The DMV will suspend your license automatically if you do not request a hearing within ten days of getting the suspension notice. Usually, this means within ten days of your arrest. Penalties related to this suspension include:
- Your license will be suspended for at least one year.
- If you can 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 ten days after your arrest, even if you haven’t gotten convicted yet. Don’t fall victim to it. The best thing you can do to improve your immediate circumstances is to request a DMV hearing immediately.
Your Rights at a DMV Hearing
You have rights in the DMV hearing. These include:
- You can have an attorney represent you during the hearing.
- 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, but it could also expose weaknesses you can use in your criminal defense.
- 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 and, 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. You have a better chance of leniency if you have an attorney by your side ready to defend you and your best interests.
What Are the Criminal Penalties for a Second Offense DUI?
The criminal penalties for a second offense DUI are much harsher than a first offense. Some of the penalties include:
- Having to serve a mandatory jail sentence of at least 96 hours in jail. Unlike a first-time DUI, you usually can’t waive this and instead of six months, the maximum jail sentence is one year.
- Paying 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 three to five years, and you are likely to face alcohol treatment, drug treatment, or other court-ordered penalties.
- 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 ten years. During that time, if you have another DUI arrest, it will count as your third offense, which brings you dangerously close to a felony DUI.
As with any DUI, you will face sentence enhancements if you refused to take a chemical test if your blood alcohol was very high, if you hurt anyone, or if there are other aggravating circumstances in your case.
Other Consequences of a Second Offense DUI
Aside from administrative and criminal penalties for second offense DUIs, there are other repercussions you should be aware of. Many of them result as a direct consequence of your conviction, such as:
- Rejection from employment or getting fired from your job
- Rejection to college or university
- Rejection from serving in the military
- Rejection to loans or financial assistance
- Multiple points put on your Negligent Operator Treatment System from the DMV, which can considerably increase your insurance premiums
As you can see, getting convicted for a second DUI offense can cost you a lot financially and socially. Don’t end up letting a mistake cost you everything in your life.
Do I Need to Go to AA for a Second Offense DUI?
The penalties listed above are the bare minimum for a second DUI. Judges have 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 Offense 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 several defense strategies can work:
- Challenging the validity of the breath test, blood test, or urine test results
- Questioning whether the arrest was legal
- The “no driving” defense
There are dozens of other ways that DUI defense lawyers win second-time DUI cases. However, one thing that is for sure is the necessity of a lawyer. You must get a strong DUI lawyer to help you win your case and beat the penalties you face.
Should I Speak with a Lawyer About My Second DUI Offense?
Getting in touch with a lawyer is one of the first things you should do after getting charged with a second DUI offense. Time is of the essence, and the law isn’t on your side. But, you don’t have to face your charges alone.
Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys can help you win your case by:
- Gathering evidence related to your case
- Examining the evidence brought against you
- Using any of the defenses listed above to help you fight against your charges
- Ensure none of your rights were violated
- Consult with experts in various fields and witnesses
- Review all plea bargains to ensure they’re fair and in your favor
Remember, even though you can fight for your defense independently, it’s still better to get a lawyer to help you. Don’t overlook just how much benefit a lawyer can bring to your case, especially when a lot is at stake if you get convicted.
Talk to Our Los Angeles DUI Lawyers Today
We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney today. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about all of your legal options. We provide free consultations at no risk or obligation to you.
We are available 24/7. You can reach us over the phone or fill out our online contact form.