If you live in California and you have a DUI, you might be wondering what punishments and charges you might face from it. This is especially true if you have multiple DUIs, as there is an escalating scale of charges with each DUI that you get. Any Los Angeles DUI attorney can tell you that these types of charges against you are meant to make your life extremely difficult in order to get people who drink and drive off the road.
While most of these arrests are considered misdemeanors, prosecutors will go out of their way to find additional charges to bring up. A misdemeanor DUI charge can easily turn into a felony if you cause injury or death as a result of your drunk driving. New laws are constantly written to make DUI charges stick longer and be more severe. Again, this is in an effort to get people to think twice before they get behind the wheel of the vehicle while under the influence.
According to the latest law in California, any DUI charge will stay on your record for 10 years from the date you were arrested. Every DUI after that has heftier fines and punishments. A certain amount of points on your license in a certain amount of time can lead to your license being suspended indefinitely.
For example, for your first DUI you can end up in jail for up to six months, face a fine of $2,000, and lose your license for six months. If you get a second DUI, then you can end up in jail for a full year, pay an additional thousand dollars, and lose your license for two years. Your third DUI is the same except that you could lose your license for three years. The fourth DUI and or a felony can put you in jail for three years, add an additional thousand dollars fine, and you lose your license for four years.
Felony injury DUIs are the most severe and can put you in jail for up to 16 years, be fined up to $5,000, and you’ll lose your license for five years.
More Consequences of Getting a DUI in California
Getting a DUI goes beyond the fine, the license suspension, and even some jail time. There are other consequences that a DUI conviction can have on your life. It all depends on whether you’ve had multiple DUI convictions, lenient judges, or the particular circumstances behind your arrest and conviction. Again, a DUI arrest that includes bodily injury or property damage can make the consequences much worse.
If you’re a professional that needs a license to work, you can lose your license or be unable to renew your license at the proper time. You may also be forced to have a mandatory interlock device installed onto your vehicle that will prevent you from starting your car until you blow into the device to prove that you have no alcohol in your system. You can also expect the cost of your insurance to go up dramatically.
Another major consequence is having to disclose your DUI to any potential future employers. It is a criminal charge that will show up on your background check unless you’ve taken the action to have the DUI expunged from your record. If you plan to go to college, a DUI conviction in California can work against you as the admissions coordinator may deny you and/or may deny you any federal or private student financial aid.
If you’re a non-US citizen looking for a visa to stay in the country or to get a green card, a DUI arrest will make that much more difficult for you. You will be questioned about your DUI when applying and it might end up getting you denied. This all depends on what the judge says and however many DUIs you have or have had in the past.
Losing Your License
If you get a DUI, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to lose your license for a specific period of time. If you’ve been caught drinking under the influence, then the state will do whatever it can to prevent you from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. You’ve exhibited risky driving behavior that can result in injury and even death to yourself and others. Drunk drivers claim thousands of lives every year and harsh DUI penalties are the best way to curb that. It’s a deterrent meant to make people think twice before drinking and driving.
If you have a DUI for the first time in California, you can lose your license for up to six months. This may or may not be what the criminal court wants to impose on you, but the DMV will also force a four-month suspension for your first DUI. If you have more than one DUI, then you will face multiple suspensions. However, the DMV will allow the suspensions to overlap, which means you’ll only have to face the longest suspension imposed as a result of your last DUI.
If your license has been suspended, you will have to undergo your first 30 days before you may qualify to receive a restricted license so that you can get to work and/or school and nowhere else. The best advice here is to not take advantage of this grace period, as abusing the restricted license may result in you losing it altogether.
After a DUI conviction, you’ll most likely be under three years of probation. In some instances, those three years could be up to five years depending on the situation. The judge may order you to go through DUI school which takes three months and will most likely be a mandatory condition of your probation. The DUI school will consist of 30 hours of instruction. If you’ve had an extremely high BAC, you may be required to go to DUI school for nine months and attend over 60 hours of classes.