Multiple DUI offenses in California? What you should know

If you have been arrested in California on suspicion of drinking while driving, you are not alone. According to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2013, there were 160,388 such arrests. Of those, 4,789 were felony charges.

Misdemeanor DUI cases include most DUI cases even if there was an accident if no one else was injured, they also include 1st, 2nd and 3rd DUI cases within 10 years of each other. There are several factors that make a DUI a felony, such as an accident where the DUI driver was at fault and someone other than the DUI driver suffered an injury or death. Having a 4th or more DUI within 10 years, and having any DUI within 10 years of a prior Felony DUI is a felony. Everyone should be aware of the potential consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs because it would act as a deterrence to driving while under the influence.

What are the penalties for a second or more DUI?

Under state law, the penalties for someone's first DUI offense, Three to five years informal probation - do not drive with any alcohol in your system, take a chemical test if asked to do so by an officer, do not drive without license and insurance, violate no laws, up to 6 months custody, large fines, license suspension and 3 to 9 month DUI programs. Many Courts authorize public work in lieu of custody in non-aggravated cases and the DMV may allow a restricted license if you meet the criteria. Some Courts also make DUI drivers have an ignition interlock device which requires a clean breath test to start your car. There are also separate DMV suspensions possible for alcohol levels independent of a conviction.

The consequences for additional DUI convictions are more serious if they occur within 10 years of the first offense. For a second offense, besides 5 years informal probation, the minimum jail time is 96 hours to 1 year jail, 18 month program, large fine, 2 year license suspension with the possibility of a restricted license with an ignition interlock device after 90 days if you were not on probation for a DUI at the time, or 1 year eligibility for restriction if you were. A third offense carries 120 days minimum custody to a year, 18 month program, large fine, 3 years no license.

A fourth violation over a 10-year period is a felony with 180 days jail to a prison commit up to 3 years. Additionally, there is a four-year license suspension, 18 month program and large fine.

What if I only have one prior DUI, but it was a felony?

The law clearly states that having a prior felony DUI on record means that any subsequent DUI arrest in 10 years will result in felony charges.

What happens if I am arrested while on probation for a DUI?

The California DMV notes that someone who is on probation due to a drunk driving conviction who is arrested on DUI charges during that time will lose his or her license for a year if the driver's blood alcohol concentration is even at just 0.01 percent regardless whether there is also a criminal case.

In addition to these criminal and administrative sanctions, DUI convictions can result in immigration issues, employment problems, vocational license problems, loss of security clearances, loss of professional licenses and many other issues. Anyone arrested or charged with a DUI should speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to review their case, and at least understand the procedures, potential consequences, and possible defenses.