We have already covered some of the initial questions you may have if you have been charged with drunk driving, along with some of the basics of the DMV license suspension hearings. If you have been accused of drunk driving though, you probably also have some questions about the penalties you could be facing. Here are the basics about DUI sentences in San Diego.
What are the possible sentences for a first-time drunk driving charge?
If probation is given in a first-time DUI conviction, the sentence will include mandatory attendance in an alcohol or drug treatment program, a fine between $390 and $1,000, an additional penalty assessment of up to 180% of the fine, and the court may sentence you to between 48 hours and six months in jail, but this is not mandatory. Your license will also be suspended for 6 months, but this will be concurrent with the initial DMV suspension that started 30 days after your arrest. After you start taking the alcohol program, file proof of your SR-22 insurance coverage and pay your DMV fees, this suspension will immediately become restricted.
If probation is not granted to you on your first DUI conviction, your potential sentence will include between 96 hours and 6 months in jail, a fine of between $390 and $1,000, and a 6-month long license suspension.
Whether or not you are granted probation, your vehicle could be impounded for up to 6 months, and you could be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car and you may be required to leave the device in place and continue to use it for up to 3 years.
What are the potential sentences for subsequent DUIs?
DUIs must occur within a ten year period of one another to be counted as subsequent charges. On a subsequent DUI conviction, your sentence will require you to attend an alcohol or drug treatment program for between 18 and 36 months (if you have not already completed one), you will need to pay a fine between $390 and $1,000 and you will be given an additional penalty assessment for up to 180% of the fine
For a second-time drunk driving offense, you will face between 96 hours and 1 year in jail and a minimum of one-year license suspension. For a third DUI offense, you will face 120 days to a year in jail and a minimum three-year license suspension. If you receive four or more DUIs in ten years, you will likely face felony charges and be subjected to anywhere from 180 days in jail to 3 years in prison and a 4 year license suspension.
Additionally, for all DUI convictions, your vehicle may be impounded for the next 6 months, and you could be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car and be required to use and maintain the device for up to 3 years.
What makes a DUI a felony?
Most DUI convictions are misdemeanors. However, a DUI conviction will be a felony in two situations; a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction within ten years is almost always charged as a felony, and if your driving while under the influence was negligent or violated a traffic law, AND resulted in the injury (even a minor injury) of another person, you will face felony DUI charges.
Additionally, a DUI traffic stop may occasionally result in other offenses, such as homicide, carrying a loaded or concealed weapon, or drug possession.
What are the potential sentences in cases involving a felony accident DUI?
A sentence for felony accident DUIs may include mandatory attendance in an alcohol or drug treatment program for between 18 and 36 months, a fine between $390 and $1,000, penalty assessments of up to 180% of the fine and a one year suspension of your license.
If you are granted probation, you will also face between 5 days and 1 year in jail and a license suspension lasting up to one year. If you are not granted probation, you may face up to 3 years in the state penitentiary, although the exact length of your sentence will depend on the court’s decision.
Additionally, you may have your vehicle impounded for 6 months, and you could be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car for the next three years.
When will a DUI sentence be increased?
If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence, your sentence could be increased if you had a minor under 14 in the vehicle with you, if you were speeding excessively (meaning you were either traveling at more than 100 mph, or over 30 mph above the speed limit) at the time of your arrest, if you were involved in a non-injury car accident due to your intoxication, if you have had any previous convictions within the past 10 years, if your blood-alcohol test showed your BAC to be over .15%, or if you refused to take a chemical test to evaluate your BAC. In cases where the BAC was above .15% or if you were involved in a non-injury car accident, you may be sentenced to public work service. If your BAC was above .20%, you will be required to take a 9 month DUI class in addition to any other increased penalties the court may impose.
If you are subject to one of these circumstances, your San Diego DUI lawyers may be able to carefully negotiate a plea bargain that may allow you avoid an increased sentence.
What happens if I am caught driving after my license was suspended for drunk driving?
If you choose to drive while your driver’s license is suspended or revoked for drunk driving, you can face between 10 days and 6 months in jail, and a fine that will range between $300 and $1,000 for a first-time offense. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
If you are charged with driving on a license suspended due to DUI a second or subsequent time, you will face a minimum of 30 days to a year in jail.
What is an alternative sentence?
Alternative sentences are generally only available if your San Diego DUI lawyer has helped you negotiate a plea bargain in which you plead guilty to at least one criminal charge. The decision regarding whether or not you are eligible to receive an alternative sentence will depend on the facts of your specific case, the charges you have agreed to, the detailed agreement your San Diego DUI attorneys have reached with the prosecution, and whether or not the judge accepts your plea agreement.
Possible alternative sentences for DUI convictions include alcohol or drug rehab programs, probation, counseling and/or attendance at AA meetings, community service, electronic monitoring while under house arrest, and other sentences that may be agreed upon by the prosecution and your DUI defense lawyers. San Diego courts have traditionally been reluctant to accept alternative sentencing, but as jails and prisons have become drastically overcrowded, they are increasingly resorting to these alternatives.
How will a San Diego DUI defense lawyer help my case?
DUI convictions can result in severe penalties, particularly for subsequent convictions and DUI accidents that result in injuries and death. That is why it is so important that anyone who has been charged with this serious crime always work with a top San Diego DUI defense attorney. When your lawyer id experienced with DUI cases and knows the ins and outs of the courts, judges and prosecutors, he will be able to develop and present the strongest defense for your case and obtain the best possible result for your specific situation. An experienced San Diego DUI attorney can help prove your innocence or minimize your potential sentence.
If you have any questions that have not been answered here, please call our offices at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top San Diego DUI attorney Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Colin K