DUI Penalties

Criminal Defense Attorney in Long Beach

Thousands of Californians are arrested for driving under the influence every year. A conviction for any type of alcohol-related offense comes with severe penalties that may affect one's reputation and future career. However, the actual severity of the penalties depends primarily on the crime committed, which is determined by the blood alcohol content level taken at the time of the arrest. DUI offenses are categorized also by the number of repeat offenses, which also affect the severity of the punishment. Depending on the level of intoxication and the amount of repeated offenses, an individual may be facing up to three years in a state prison.

First-Offense DUI Penalties

If someone is arrested and convicted for DUI but has not prior conviction, they will face the lightest penalties in the categories. Assuming the blood alcohol content level was between .08% and .15%, conviction will be classified as a misdemeanor. The sentence for this offense may include between three and five years of probation, a maximum fine of $1,800 but a minimum of $1,400 and license suspension for six months. Sentences can be reduced to a license restriction, as opposed to suspension, which allows the defendant to drive to and from work or school but nowhere else.

First-time conviction of a DUI offense in Long Beach and California also requires 48 hours spent in a county jail. With the right criminal defense attorney representing the victim, those hours of jail time can be converted to community service hours to avoid time spent in jail. DUI conviction also requires completion of court-ordered DUI School, the hours required for participation may be between 12 and 48 hours depending on the sentence agreed to by the attorneys.

Beginning in July 2010, Los Angeles County implemented a new requirement for individuals convicted of first-offense DUI. Installation of an ignition interlock device is mandatory for five months subsequent to the completion of license suspension. The requirement goes up to 12 months of mandatory installation if the offense involved an injury.

Second-Offense DUI Penalties

In California, any prior DUI convictions are relevant to an individual's driving record for up to 10 years. This means that if an offense is repeated within 10 years of the first offense, it will be considered a second DUI offense, which is subject to heavier penalties than the first. While the probation is the same as first-offense DUI, a second conviction of DUI within 10 years comes with fines between $1,800 and $2,800. License sanctions are also more severe for the second conviction, requiring the loss of driving privileges for at least two years.

A second DUI offense also comes with a mandatory jail sentence of at least 96 hours, which is subject to change depending on the county. Some counties insist on no less than 10 days in jail but others may require up to 30 days. The court may also order up to 18 months of participation in DUI School for a second offense.

Third-Offense DUI Penalties

A third time offender within ten years of the first two convictions will find him or herself facing between 120 months and one year of jail time. Court and jail fines remain between $1,800 and $2,800 but participation in DUI School is increased to 30 months, as the court may determine. License revocation is increased to three years which can be converted to a restricted license after 18 months of suspension to allow the defendant to drive to and from work or school.

A third offense also warrants designation of the offender, who now has three counts of DUI on their record, as a "habitual traffic offender" (HTO) by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This title will affect the future of the individual as they stand to face extremely severe penalties for future traffic offenses.

Felony DUI Penalties

A DUI offense may be classified as a felony for three main reasons. The first is if the offense is the fourth offense by the same individual within a 10 year period. Secondly, a person may be convicted of felony DUI if someone else was injured while the defendant was driving under the influence. Thirdly, the defendant may be convicted of felony DUI if he or she had any prior felony DUI convictions for any reason.

Felony DUI comes with increased jail time of up to three years in a state prison and possibly the permanent loss of driving privileges. DUI School is also 30 months, as with a third-offense however, the defendant will face the social and legal repercussions of having a felony conviction on record. Felony convictions can affect an individual in many ways, including a "strike" on their California criminal record, pursuant to California's Three Strikes law.

Long Beach DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in Long Beach, it is extremely important that you retain the help of our Long Beach criminal defense lawyers right away. Conviction is not necessarily certain and even if you are convicted, a strong DUI defense lawyer can help you get a fair and reduced sentence. Contact a Long Beach criminal lawyer from our firm today to learn more about how we can help you defend against your DUI charges.

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