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What Are the Penalties for a DUI Conviction?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | May 30, 2022

Anybody who gets a DUI in Los Angeles County realizes they have a problem because the police will send them to court. Depending on their case circumstances, they're potentially facing losing their driver's license and even jail time.

So, I thought it might be good to talk about some of the potential punishments related to DUIs in LA county. First, you have to talk about the DMV.  A possible punishment with the DMV for a first-time DUI is the loss of your driver's license for six months.

DUI Penalties in California

Often, a defense attorney can get just a 30-day loss of the license and then a restricted license after that.  That's going to involve paying some money to the DMV and putting an ignition interlock device in your car, and only being able to drive to and from work and to and from any class you might have.

Often, you can also drive during the course and scope of work.  So, driver's license loss is one of the potential punishments. There are many ways you can get convicted of DUI.

The most common is blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over the legal limit. These illegal limits are listed within California Vehicle Code 23152 VC:

  • .08% or higher if you are 21 years of age or older;
  • .04% or higher If you have a commercial driver's license (CDL);
  • .04% or higher If you are currently on DUI probation;
  • .01% or higher If you are under 21 years old.

Driving under the influence does not mean only alcohol; rather, it can also be any substance impacting your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, including illegal drugs, controlled substances, marijuana, and prescription medications. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.

What Are the Standard DUI Penalties in California?

DUIs penalties will vary depending on the details of the case and whether you decided to refuse a chemical test. The basic penalties include the following:

What Are the Penalties for a First or Second DUI in California?

If convicted of a first offense DUI, the penalties include the following:

  • Driver's license suspension of about four months,
  • Up to 6 months in county jail,
  • Fines up to $3,600,
  • DUI probation of three to five years,
  • DUI school for up to three months,
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device,

The punishment can increase exponentially on a second DUI offense in Los Angeles.  You're usually looking at losing your driver's license for a year.  You also have to do an 18-month alcohol program to get it back. A second DUI conviction will usually carry:

Penalties for a First or Second DUI in California
  • Driver's license suspension of up to two years
  • Up to one year in county jail,
  • Fines up to $4,000,
  • DUI probation of three to five years,
  • DUI school up to 30 months,
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

What Are the Penalties for Multiple DUIs?

Next, as you go on to your third and fourth offense, the DMV has the power to revoke your driver's license, and you can't get it back under any circumstances for some time, depending on how long the revocation is for.  On your third driving under the influence offense, the penalties include:

  • Driver's license suspension of up to three years,
  • one year in jail or up to 16 months in state prison,
  • Fines up to $18,000,
  • DUI probation up to five years,
  • DUI school for up to 30 months,
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device,

So, that gives you an idea of the seriousness of DUI offenses in LA county and why you have to have an attorney to have a fighting chance to protect your driving rights.

What About Injuries and Having a Conviction on My Record?

Then we move to the criminal court.  People sometimes don't even realize that a DUI is a crime, so you get a criminal conviction on your record.  As part of what I consider punishment, nobody wants a mark on their record so future employers can see it.

DUI with Injuries in California

In addition to that, depending on how severe your DUI case was, you may be facing jail time.  On a first offense misdemeanor case without any injury, you're facing a maximum of six months in jail.

You're facing a year in jail on a second offense misdemeanor DUI case with no injury.  If you get your second offense while on probation for your first offense, you face up to three years in jail.

If there's a severe injury in your case involving an accident to another person, you could be facing up to three years in prison.  If the serious injury is terrible enough to amount to great bodily harm, there's an additional three-year enhancement, so you'll be facing six years in prison.

If somebody dies, you'll be facing 15 to life, and the prosecutors, especially in LA county, will charge you with murder.

Why Should You Retain the Best DUI Lawyer?

So, this gives you a pretty good feel about how severe DUI cases are handled in Los Angeles.  I've been defending them now for 30 years.  I worked for the DA's office; I worked for a judge, and I've been a DUI defense attorney since the early 1990s.

So, if you want the best, you've come to the right place.  My prices are reasonable.  However, don't settle for an attorney who doesn't have experience and is not battle-tested.

Please make sure you check into who your attorney is, what they're about, and what experience they have, and don't get passed off to one of those mill firms where the names in the firm are not involved in defending your case.  They've got younger attorneys that have no experience.

What Are Some Other Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction?

Other potential punishments you could face on a DUI in addition to jail or prison time the loss of your driver's license, you could also be looking at fines.  Usually, in Los Angeles County, the minimum fine is $390.00 plus penalty assessment, which generally works out to approximately $2,000.00.

Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

The courts will typically let you pay that over time.  You can also get community services, Cal-Trans, community labor, and other potential punishments.

If somebody continues to get arrested for a DUI or had an idiotically high blood alcohol level, sometimes the judge will order them not to drink any alcohol while their case is pending or even during the probation they are put on.

Sometimes the judge makes them put on a scram device that detects alcohol, so they can't drink any alcohol without the scram device going off. The scram device company alerts the court, and then the person will be arrested and taken into custody. This is all designed around protecting the public.  That is what the courts and prosecutors see one of their primary functions to be.

So, understand that if you have a DUI case, anything you do that is a danger to the public, driving recklessly, getting into accidents – they're going to punish you because they want to show that they're punishing people who endanger the people. They genuinely believe that you will continue to drink, drive, and endanger people if you don't get punished.

It would help if you had somebody who could turn the tide in your favor.  Fortunately, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case consultation by phone or the contact form.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.