Sunday, March 27, 2011

What are the Penalties for a DUI in Los Angeles County?

So you or someone you know got arrested for drunk driving and are freaking out over what is going to happen.  You have many questions such as Am I going to Jail?  and Am I going to lose my license?  These are all good questions and it is healthy to take a proactive approach to the situation, but don't stress yourself out.  The best thing to do is consult with an experienced DUI attorney in the area where you were arrested.  You see, each jurisdiction has different penalties for driving under the influence so a DWI that occurs in San Francisco may be punished differently than one in Los Angeles.

California quite possibly has some of the stiffest consequences for DUI among all fifty states. Within California, Los Angeles probably has the toughest penalties for persons convicted of drunk driving or DUI. The Courts in L.A. are particularly heavy handed on offenders who drive with children in the car or those that have prior convictions for the same offense. 

Here is a quick summary of the most prevalent penalties handed down:

DMV Drivers License Consequences :

Those Over 21 If a breath or Blood test is Taken:
1st Offense: Six months Drivers License suspension.
2nd Offense: One year suspension.
3rd Offense: Two year revocation.
4th Offense: Three year revocation.

For first offenders, the DMV will allow a restricted license for work and school if the violator gets enrolled in a DUI program and obtains an SR-22.

Those over 21 who REFUSE a Chemical Test:
1st Offense: Drivers License suspension for one year, with no possibility of  provisional or restricted license.
2nd Offense: License suspension for two years.
3rd Offense: License suspension for three years.
4th Offense: License revocation for four years.

Those Offenders Under 21 at the Time of the Arrest:

For drivers under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, a one year license suspension will be imposed. However, an experienced Under 21 DUI Attorney can oftentimes obtain a set aside of any suspension based on a number of technicalities in the paperwork.  If no set aside is possible then a lawyer can help in acquiring a critical need restriction for work, school or medical appointments.


Los Angeles Superior Court Penalties on the VC23152 DUI charges:
(As of July 2010 all Persons Convicted of DUI in Los Angeles County will be required to install an Ignition Interlock on all vehicles they own or have access to in order to get their drivers license returned)

1st Offense: Some courts do not require jail time on a first-offense, unless there are  grounds for a sentence enhancement (such as a minor in the car, speed enhancements, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20% or higher, refusing the chemical test, or others). Other courts require some jail time (48 hours to 10 days), even on a first offense. The required alcohol education program will also vary. The standard  program is once a week for 12 weeks; however, where the BAC is .15% or  higher, a six or even nine month program will be ordered.  An experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer can help to eliminate serious punishments or mitigate the sentence in appropriate circumstances.

2nd Offense (One prior conviction within last 10 years): By law, the mandatory minimum jail time on a second offense DUI is 96 hours, although this can be served in two 48-hour periods. Some courts will allow city jail. Still other courts will routinely impose much harsher jail  sentences on a second-offense DWI, with sentences of 30 days or more. The SB-38 alcohol education program for a second offense DUI is 18
months long. An ignition interlock device may be required.
3rd Offense (Two prior DUI convictions within last 10 years): A California mandatory minimum jail sentence of 120 days and 3 year license revocation. ( Pursuant to Recent Legislation, a Multiple offender may be allowed to obtain a restricted license for work purposes, contact a DUI attorney for help)

4th Offense (Three or more DUI convictions within last 10 years): A fourth offense Drunk Driving conviction is a Felony "wobbler", meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Punishment can range from up to one year in county jail, up to three years in a California state prison, more if the person caused injury or has prison priors.

Drunk Driving Sentence Enhancements in Los Angeles:

sentence Enhancements are added punishments the Judge must order for cases involving special factors or what the California Law Regards as Requiring a more intense punishment, some examples include:

Refusal to take the chemical test;  BAC of .15% or .20% or higher;  Speeding 20 miles per hour above speed limit on side streets, or 30 mph  over the speed limit on the freeway, where driving recklessly and DUI,  (requires 60 days in jail if convicted); Minor in car while driver DUI; Traffic Collision or Motor Vehicle Accident; Prior DUI or drunk driving convictions; Injury to persons other than the defendant (VC 23153);  Drugs in system in addition to alcohol.  These enhancements all carry a more severe sentence if found to be true or if the accused pleads no contest or guilty, the penalties vary but can involve Loss of Vehicle thru impound, various other programs such as MADD or HAM (Los Angeles County Hospital and Morgue Program)  group meetings, hard labor community service or incarceration in the L.A. county jail.