Second Offenses, More Serious than First

If facing a second offense for a California driving under the influence (DUI) charge, then securing the right attorney to fight the charges will be absolutely important. A second conviction for DUI will result in a jail sentence ranging from 96 hours to a full year, in addition to various other penalties, like probation for between three and five years, fines between $390 and $1,000, a license suspension of two years, and completion of an 18 or 30 month California DUI school approved by the court.

With such a big difference between minimum and maximum penalties, even if a suspect is unable to defeat the charges, an attorney assigned to represent the suspect can fight aggressively on the person’s behalf for minimal penalties. Despite the fact that the law establishes a minimum amount of penalties, prosecutors are free to request penalties against the accused for any amount within the minimum and maximum amounts allowed. Many prosecutors request standard minimum penalties like 45 or 90 days in jail for a second DUI offense but, in many cases, even these preferences can be negotiated down.

Justifying Maximum Penalties

Factors which would generally make a prosecutor pursue maximum penalties, some of which may even be enough to bump a DUI charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, include causing injury or death to another person, being found with a child passenger under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the arrest, if blood alcohol content is determined to be .15% or higher, or if a person suspected of DUI was also discovered to have been operating a vehicle without a valid license.

The Ignition Interlock

Anyone convicted of DUI in California may be ordered by a judge to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle which the convicted person drives. Generally, a judge will order the installation of an ignition interlock device if the convicted person requests a conditional license while his or her license is still suspended. The conditional license allows the conditional license holder limited driving privileges and restricts the person from driving anywhere other than court approved destinations, like work and school.

A person can request to have a destination approved by the court, but the court is under no requirement to grant any requests – another reason why securing competent DUI defense counsel is so important. DUI defense attorneys can argue on a client’s behalf for the issuance of a conditional license and for the approval to drive to requested destinations.

Determining if an Offense is a Second Offense

California law restricts how far back a prosecutor can go in a person’s record to find a first time DUI offense to justify second offense charges. The current limit is 10 years, which means any DUI conviction in a person’s record that is up to 10 years old may be used against the person to justify a second offense conviction. Convictions for out of state DUIs can also be used against a California driver to justify second offense penalties if the circumstances of the first case would have resulted in a DUI conviction in California.