Driving under the influence is taken very seriously in California. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is relatively low compared to other states, and the law has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone under 21 who is caught driving while intoxicated. As serious as the penalties can be, things get even worse when you are charged with a second DUI.
When you have been arrested for a subsequent DUI, it is important to understand what you are facing and how to defend yourself in court. A skilled Los Angeles DUI lawyer is the key to reducing your punishment and minimizing fees.
Second DUIs Mean More Fines and More Jail Time
When you are charged with a second DUI within 10 years of the previous DUI, you will be looking at increased jail time. You will be required to complete a longer DUI safety program and to complete a second-offender alcohol treatment program. Finally, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car.
Specifically, the required penalties are:
- A minimum of 96 hours in jail
- Possibility of up to 1 full year in jail
- Penalty assessment fines ranging from $390 to $1000
- Summary DUI probation lasting 3-5 years
- Mandatory attendance in an 18-month alcohol education class
- IID installation before you can receive a restricted license
All these additional penalties will cost a lot of money, sometimes running into thousands of dollars. They will also come out of your own pocket since insurance will not cover them.
Speaking of insurance, you will be required to purchase and maintain special SR-22 insurance until your DUI probation period ends. This insurance is in addition to your existing automotive coverage.
Points on Your License
A second DUI will also result in points being added to your license. If you already have points and previous arrests for things such as reckless driving or DUI, it becomes easy to lose your driving privileges for a long time. While you can receive a restricted license that allows you to drive to, from, and for work, as well as to DUI classes, this will require installation of the ignition interlock device so that you are unable to start your car while intoxicated.
Factors that Make a Second DUI Worse
If you are charged with what are known as aggravating factors, these can make a second DUI even more punishing than usual. The prosecutor will attempt to increase the fines, restrictions, and jail time to punish you more severely. Any of the following can be considered aggravating factors:
- Causing or being involved in an auto accident
- Committing a hit-and-run accident
- Injuring or killing someone (in another vehicle or a passenger with you)
- Driving with a suspended license
- Having a child or minor under 21 in the car
- Refusing to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine)
- Speeding or driving recklessly
- Having a BAC of .15% or higher
- Driving while on probation from a previous DUI
Any of these circumstances will figure heavily into a judge’s decision on how to proceed against you. The prosecuting attorney will work diligently to make an example of you based on how many factors are involved.
Is a Second DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
First and second DUI charges are usually filed as misdemeanors, providing there are no aggravating factors. However, if you have committed other crimes or caused injury while driving under the influence, a prosecutor could pursue felony charges. You could face fines up to $5000 and be required to pay restitution to anyone you harmed.
You would also face time in state prison rather than county jail. Keep in mind that the window for having a second DUI after your first one is 10 full years. That is a long time to avoid drinking and driving, and many people who have one DUI may be susceptible to repeat offenses.
It is important to fully understand how seriously California law governs subsequent charges. An experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can help you plan your defense to help ease the burden you face.
Ways to Fight a Second DUI
While the punishments are more severe for additional DUI charges, your lawyer can use tried-and-true techniques to have your sentence reduced. You must also work with both the court system and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), who govern when and if you get your driver’s license back.
One of the first steps after hiring an attorney is to request a hearing at the DMV. You should schedule this hearing in addition to the court hearing that will be scheduled for you. Having a hearing at the DMV is your right under due process of law, so take advantage of it.
Your attorney may be able to find technicalities during the hearing that could be useful when you appear before a judge.
Mandatory Jail Sentences
A second DUI conviction means a mandatory jail sentence. While judges are not allowed to dismiss jail time outright, it is possible to have the number of days reduced or to have the sentence converted. For example, your lawyer may be able to plea bargain for you to be placed under house arrest.
You would stay within the confines of your home and property, wearing an ankle monitor to track your location. You could also request conversion to a rehabilitation program that helps you overcome your addiction issues. Successfully convincing a judge to change your sentence from jail time to house arrest or a rehab program is very difficult.
Your lawyer will need to offer a very compelling argument regarding your circumstances and negotiate with the prosecuting attorney. Ultimately, it is up to the judge’s discretion as to your sentence, so gathering as much evidence as you can to present your case in the best possible light is crucial.
Hire an Experienced California DUI Lawyer Today
A second DUI in California is extremely serious, and this is no time to represent yourself or be confused about how to proceed. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer is key to winning the best result for your case. Contact us today using our online form for your free consultation.