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DUI Driver That Killed 6 had Previous DUI

February 11, 2014 - A Souther California 21-year old woman responsible for killing 6 people while driving under the influence had her license suspended at age 16 for a previous DUI. (MORE)

Bynes Cops Plea Deal in So Cal DUI Arrest

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October 13, 2013 - A suspected drunk driver, arrested in San Diego after crashing into a pair of parked cars, was initially apprehended by people living nearby after he attempted to flee the scene on foot. (MORE)

California DUI Laws

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If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you may be facing criminal prosecution and the ensuing possibility of fines, jail, DUI classes and other conviction penalties. Penalties are automatically increased if the offender has other DUI convictions within the past 10 years. In certain cases, a California DUI attorney might be able to have your charges reduced to a "wet reckless" which carries lesser penalties than a DUI. Interestingly, you cannot be arrested for a "wet reckless." It is only available as a plea bargain in place of a DUI charge. Each county has different sentencing policies and potential pleas for DUI charges, so it is best to speak to a California DUI lawyer to learn more.

Your driver's license may also be suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles following a DUI stop. In fact, a person under 21 years of age can lose his or her driving privilege for a year or more for refusing a chemical test, or if a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test shows as little as 0.01 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). After a California DUI arrest, you only have 10 days to challenge an administrative license suspension, so it is important to contact a DUI attorney right away.

If you have been charged with a DUI and have a criminal record, it is vital to have skilled representation. Under the California Three Strikes Law, a person with a prior serious or violent felony conviction may have his or her sentence doubled if convicted of a subsequent felony (whether or not the subsequent felony is a serious or violent felony). If the person has two or more prior convictions for any serious or violent felonies, he or she now faces the possibility of life in prison. However, in some cases the court might nullify one or more of the prior convictions. Contact a California DUI attorney to learn more.

California DUI/DWI Laws and Penalties

State and federal laws in the United States are constantly changing. The following guide is intended solely for informational purposes and should not take the place of the advice of a lawyer. Only a qualified attorney can assess the merits of your case completely and provide an effective plan for counsel.

Blood Alcohol Content/Concentration ("BAC")

California BAC laws may differ from those of other states, as follows.

California BAC Laws
Per Se Violation BAC of .08 or higher
"Zero Tolerance" (BAC for Someone Under 21) .01 or higher
Commercial Driver's License Holder* .04 or higher (while operating a commercial vehicle)
Implied Consent to Submit to a BAC Test
  • Yes, by getting a California driver's license, you give consent to submit to a BAC test (breath alcohol test or blood analysis)
  • Failure to submit to a BAC test will result in a fine, potential jail time, and a 1-year license suspension

Administrative License Suspension

Suspension by DMV: immediately following arrest for DUI/DWI; independent of court conviction and suspensions following a court conviction.

Time to file for appeal: within approximately 10 days after DUI/DWI citation.

DUI/DWI Arrest
1st Offense 4 months license suspension
Subsequent Offenses (within 10 years) 1-year license suspension
"Zero Tolerance" (BAC for someone under 21) 1-year license suspension
Temporary License Yes, for 30 days after DUI/DWI citation
Administrative Hearing Yes
Limited Privileges Possible Yes
Refusal to Submit to BAC Test
1st Offense 1-year license suspension
Subsequent Offenses (within 10 years) 2 years license revocation
"Zero Tolerance" (BAC for Someone Under 21) 1-year license suspension

Criminal Court Conviction - Mandatory Fines and Penalties

(Penalties imposed by the criminal court system)

First DUI/DWI Offense
License Suspension 6 months (may have conditional license)
Prison Term and Community Service 96 hours to 6 months in jail; maybe community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $390 to $1,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • Potential ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Mandatory DUI program; possible treatment
Second DUI/DWI Offense (within 10 years)
License Suspension 2 years (may have conditional license)
Prison Term and Community Service 90 days to 1 year in jail; maybe community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $1,000 to $1,900 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • Potential ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Mandatory DUI program; possible treatment
Third DUI/DWI Offense (within 10 years of 2nd offense)
License Suspension 3 years (could be revoked up to 10 years for bad behavior); may have conditional license
Prison Term and Community Service 180 days to 1 year in jail; maybe community service
Fines, Fees, and Surcharges Approx. $1,000 to $2,000 or higher**
Vehicle Penalties
  • Potential impound or confiscation
  • Potential ignition interlock device (prevents operation of vehicle if driver's BAC is too high)
Drug and Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Mandatory DUI program; possible treatment
Aggravating Factors that Can Alter DUI/DWI Penalties***
Vehicular Manslaughter
Driving with Children in the Car
Higher BAC (above the enhanced penalty)
Zero Tolerance DUI/DWI
Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs
Out-of-State DUI/DWI Convictions
Reckless Driving/Accident

*Restrictions can be placed on a commercial driver's license for any DUI/DWI (even those received while driving non-commercial vehicles).
**Includes only fines, fees, and surcharges imposed by the court upon conviction; excludes court costs, attorneys' fees, mandatory treatment costs, bail, and increased insurance.
***A variety of factors in your specific DUI/DWI situation can alter your penalties beyond what is set out in law. This chart lists some of these aggravating factors.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association, California Department of Motor Vehicles

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