What are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence?

Driving Under the InfluenceDrivers who have been arrested for DUI want to know what potential penalties they face. The penalties of a DUI go beyond criminal penalties imposed by a judge. The driver may also face a driver’s license suspension, professional license consequences and other collateral consequences that have long-lasting effects.

DUI Court Penalties for First Time DUI Offenders

The penalties imposed on a DUI conviction depend on the particular facts of the case and the defendant’s prior record. A first-time DUI defendant without special circumstances can be sentenced to DUI probation for three to five years with numerous conditions of probation, including potential jail time, community labor or community service, a DUI alcohol education class, expensive court fines, programs such as the MADD Victims Impact Panel and Hospital and Morgue (“HAM”) and any other requirements that the court imposes. If the driver refused testing, he or she may be sentenced to mandatory jail time. The prosecutor can also add enhancements for driving at excessive speeds or driving with a minor in the vehicle that can lead to additional punishments and mandatory jail time. If the DUI involved a collision, the defendant would be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for any damages incurred.

DUI with Priors

If the defendant had one or more prior DUI conviction within the last ten years, a conviction can result in steeper penalties. The defendant would face mandatory jail time as a result of prior DUI convictions. In addition the defendant would be placed on probation for a longer period of time, would have to complete an 18-month DUI alcohol education class and would have a longer driver’s license suspension.

If the defendant has four DUI convictions within ten years, the fourth can be charged as felony DUI. If convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to prison or could be sentenced to up to a year in jail with extensive DUI conditions if placed on probation.

Driver’s License Suspension

Any driver who is arrested for DUI in California will face a driver license suspension with the California DMV. This suspension is issued independently of any criminal court action. This suspension will go into effect automatically unless the driver (or his or her attorney) requests an administrative hearing within ten days of the arrest. The DMV hearing is not heard by a court of law, but instead by a hearing officer who is a DMV employee and is neither an attorney nor a judge. Ultimately, the hearing officer will either reinstate or set aside the suspension. A first-time DUI driver will face a four-month suspension. If the driver refused testing, the suspension is a year without the ability to get a restricted license.

Other Consequences

A DUI conviction can also trigger collateral consequences that affect all aspects of the defendant’s life. If the defendant is in an occupation that requires a professional license, such as law, medicine, teaching or many others, the state licensing agency can suspend or revoke someone’s professional license as the result of a DUI conviction. In addition, the conviction would be on the defendant’s record and may be visible to future employers or landlords.

If you or someone you know have been arrested in California for a DUI offense, it is imperative that you go over your case with an experienced DUI attorney right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands how to effectively fight DUI cases on behalf of his clients. Mr. Kraut understands the steep penalties that a DUI carries and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.

For more information about the penalties for driving under the influence, and to schedule your free consultation, Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7.

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