What Are California’s DUI Penalties for Second-Time Offenders?

Your first DUI offense may have been an accident, but being caught a second time is considered much worse in the eyes of the law. If you’ve been charged with a 2nd offense DUI, it’s critical to contact an experienced Riverside DUI attorney.

Scott D. Henry is a leading defender of citizens accused of driving under the influence. Whether you live in Riverside or Orange Counties, it’s important to understand the penalties associated with a second offense and how a DUI lawyer can help you build a strong defense.

What Counts as a 2nd Offense DUI?

Not all repeat offenders are guilty of a second DUI. In California, you have a prior DUI if your conviction occurred within the 10 years before your arrest. However, the law defines prior DUI convictions broadly. It includes both traditional DUI convictions and those for other offenses like “wet reckless” convictions. If you were simply arrested for a DUI, but not convicted, it does not count as a prior offense.

Just as with a first offense DUI, your second DUI will be handled by two different processes: the California DMV and the criminal justice system. Each comes with penalties. Consult with our Riverside DUI Attorney to learn more.

What Penalties Could I Be Facing?

The California DMV handles the administrative process, which focuses on your driving privileges. The criminal justice system and the courts will address your criminal penalties.

Administrative Penalties

After a 2nd offense DUI, you must act quickly to protect your driving privileges. Unless you request an administrative per se hearing with the California DMV within 10 days of receiving your suspension notice, they will automatically suspend your driver’s license.

Typically, you receive this notice at the time of your arrest. This suspension will be in effect for at least one year, although in most cases our attorney’s can help you obtain a restricted license immediately. Even if you eventually regain your driver’s license, you will have to purchase SR-22 insurance, which can be incredibly costly.

The DMV can (and will) impose these penalties before you’re convicted.

Notably, if you request an administrative per se hearing with the California DMV, the agency cannot suspend your license until there is a formal decision made on the merits of your case. Since it can take months to complete the DMV hearing process, this can give you much-needed time to come up with a plan.

It’s in your best interest to file an appeal with the help of an experienced Riverside DUI attorney. Your lawyer can guide you through the appeal process and attend your hearing with you. We can also present helpful testimony and question the officer that arrested you. We typically recommend an in-person hearing, rather than one over the telephone.

Criminal Penalties

If you face the court on a second-time offense, the judge will weigh several factors. Details regarding the pullover sequence, your reputation and other factors will all combine into potential penalties in your case. These penalties range from generous and minimal to long-term and damaging. Consider these minimum- and maximum-penalty ranges, including:

  • 96 Hours to 365 days in jail
  • Three to five years of probation
  • Fines between $390 and $1,000 plus Penalty Assessments
  • Suspended license for up to two years
  • Eighteen to 30 months of California driving-under-the-influence school

Because one small detail can quickly change a minimum penalty into a maximum type, you need a strong criminal defense lawyer by your side. Our law firm has experience in nearly every court in Southern California.

Negotiating the Penalty Types

It’s the job of the prosecutors to make you an example for other citizens. In most cases, prosecutors will seek the maximum penalty to prove a point about not driving under the influence. You’ll need a lawyer who knows the California law inside and out. Many times, an experienced DUI lawyer can identify important information during their investigation that can be used during negotiations with the prosecutors.

Each case is unique, and details will help your defense secure minimum penalties. When you work with our legal team, we carefully study the circumstances surrounding your arrest and may  consider these important case details, such as:

  • Property damage involved
  • Injuries or deaths as a result of your driving
  • Children present at the scene

If your intoxication situation was relatively uneventful, minimum penalties can be applied without too much effort. Without a good lawyer by your side, however, even simple cases can be lost to the prosecution.

2nd Offense DUIs Can Be Cause for Harsh Penalties

Your case might be complicated by several known factors. Under California law, prosecutors can demand increased penalties under certain circumstances. Harsh penalties are often imposed when these issues are part of the charge, including:

  • Blood alcohol content exceeding 0.15 percent
  • Child under age 14 inside the vehicle
  • Driving without a current license
  • Inflicting injury or death on another person

It’s not just the penalties that become harsher but also the type of charge. A misdemeanor can quickly turn into a felony if bodily injury is involved. For this reason alone, a strong defense team is necessary.

At the Law Offices of Scott Henry, we focus our practice primarily on DUI defense. Unlike some law firms that simply dabble in these complex cases, we have a detailed and sophisticated understanding of California’s DUI laws. We can put all of our efforts into your case in order to fight off a felony charge.

Controlling Driving Privileges

If you have a solid defense team, it’s possible to receive a restricted license while fighting a second-time intoxication offense. However, the court still needs proof that you’re driving sober.

A judge can request for an ignition interlock to be installed on your car. These calibrated devices require your sober breath before the engine will turn over. Some devices can even have restrictions on the destination, such as a cocktail bar instead of your work address.

Think of the ignition interlock device as a way to prove yourself to the court. Every time that you have a sober drive to an approved destination, you gain trust with the judge. These sober readings are recorded in order to show your compliance with the court too.

Does California Impose 2nd Offense DUI Penalties for Drugs?

California’s second offense DUI laws cover both drunk and drugged driving. If you were arrested for driving while under the influence of either legal or illegal drugs, you should consult with an experienced DUI lawyer. Defending these cases requires intensive attention to detail and a deep understanding of how our bodies process and metabolize drugs and medications.

Learn More About 2nd Offense DUIs in Riverside

Many drivers may be in serious trouble if California didn’t define what a second offense is regarding driving-under-the-influence charges. You may have received a first-time conviction when you were 20 years old, but now a second conviction is pending as you turn 50 years old. By California’s standards, a second offense is only possible if the first offense occurred in the past 10 years.

Another way prosecutors can define your second offense is if you had a charge leveled against you in another state. If that state’s intoxication charges match California’s bylaws, it’s considered a first offense that counts toward a second one if applicable.

Consult With a Riverside DUI Attorney

Contact Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense law firm. Our attorney team can help you wade through the legal system and emerge successful. Don’t let that intoxication charge turn into a conviction. Learn more about how The Law Offices of Scott Henry can help today.