Getting charged with Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) is quite serious and carries significant, potentially life-altering penalties if convicted. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, you need to fight for your rights since a conviction will likely result in large monetary fines, loss of driving privileges, skyrocketing auto insurance premiums, and jail time.
The severity of the punishment associated with a DUI conviction depends on a variety of factors, including any prior criminal history and whether this is your first DUI conviction. In addition, there are “aggravating factors” a court can consider to potentially “enhance” your punishment including:
- Causing harm to another individual;
- Having an exceedingly high blood alcohol content (e.g., 0.15% or higher);
- A minor child was in the vehicle when you were pulled over; and
- Having alcohol in your system and you are under the age of 21.
First-Time DUI Conviction
If this is your first-ever DUI offense, the penalties are still fairly severe in California. For example, despite not having a prior history of intoxicated driving, you could still be subjected to the following:
- Monetary fine of up to $1000;
- Loss of your driving privileges for up to ten months;
- Mandatory attendance at a court-approved safe driving course; and/or
- Six months in jail
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer would be extremely beneficial since your lawyer can attempt to work out a plea agreement with the district attorney or get a reduced charge due to the lack of an extensive criminal history.
Second DUI Conviction
If you have a DUI conviction on your record and are now faced with a second potential conviction, the value of an experienced defense attorney only increases. Why? Because the penalties escalate with a second DUI conviction and courts often seek to make an “example” of a repeat offender. For example, the penalties associated with a second DUI conviction include:
- Loss of your driving privileges for up to two years;
- A minimum jail sentence of four days, but the potential to be sentenced to one year in a county jail; and
- Required attendance at California DUI school, which can last between 18 and 30 months.
Third DUI Conviction
If you are expecting the penalties to be even harsher for someone with two prior DUI convictions on their record, you would be 100% correct. A third DUI conviction can result in penalties such as:
- A minimum jail sentence of 120 days, but the potential to be sentenced to one year in a county jail;
- Loss of your driving privileges for at least three years; and
- Mandatory attendance in a nearly three-year-long DUI education course.
Fourth DUI Conviction
A fourth DUI conviction is especially serious since a court has the discretion to charge you with a felony. As a result, your prison sentence could be extended beyond one year. In fact, the minimum prison sentence for a fourth-time DUI conviction is 16 months. You could also be subjected to a four-year suspension of your driving privileges and being designated as a “Habitual Traffic Offender” (HTO) by the DMV. Good luck trying to afford auto insurance with an HTO marker on your driving record.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney
The Law Office of Peter Berlin is ready to help you and your loved ones if you are facing DUI charges. We are dedicated to providing top-notch criminal defense representation for each and every one of our clients. Contact our office today for a free, confidential, and comprehensive case review at (310) 289-5418.