DUI Penalties

Defense Lawyer Explains the Penalties for Drunk Driving

When you or a loved one faces a DUI charge, you can expect stiff penalties from both criminal proceedings and the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It is also important to note that each county handles DUI penalties and plea bargains differently. In order to ensure that local residents of San Mateo, Redwood City and Palo Alto understand the potential penalties they face, the Law Office of James Dunn has compiled the following information.

First DUI

California has some of the stiffest DUI penalties, even for those who are first time offenders. Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, you may also face increased punishments which come as the result of penalty enhancements. As each county handles DUIs differently, you can expect the following penalties for the county in which you were arrested.

San Mateo County (Redwood City and South San Francisco)
Typical negotiated plea to a first time DUI charge: Three years of court supervised probation, two days on the Sheriff's work program, three month DMV approved DUI class, approximately $1,860 in fines, which can be paid in monthly installments over the course of the three year probation term. While on probation you will not be permitted to drive with any alcohol in your system, and you are required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC level over .15%
  • BAC level over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing the chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

Santa Clara County (San Jose and Palo Alto)
Typical negotiated plea to a first time DUI charge: Three years of court supervised probation, six days on the Sheriff's work program, three month DMV approved DUI class, approximately $1,900 in fines, which can be paid in installments over the three year probation term. While on probation you will not be permitted to drive with any alcohol in your system, and you are required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a peace officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC level over .15%
  • BAC level over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing a chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

Second DUI

If you are arrested for a DUI within ten years of a prior DUI offense, you will be charged as multiple a offender. For Second DUIs, this means increased penalties in both criminal and DMV proceeding. Penalty enhancements can also heighten punishments.

San Mateo County (Redwood City and South San Francisco)
Typical negotiated plea to a second DUI: Three years of court supervised probation, 30 to 60 days on the Sheriff's work program, 18 month DMV approved DUI class, approximately $2,250 in fines, which can be paid in installments over the three year probation term. While on probation, you are prohibited from consuming any alcohol or being inside of any establishment that serves alcohol as its main business, including bars and liquor stores. You are also required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC over .15%
  • BAC over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the speed limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing the chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

If you are still on probation for your first DUI at the time of your arrest, you will also face additional penalties for the violation of probation on that case.

Santa Clara County (San Jose and Palo Alto)
Typical negotiated plea to a Second DUI: Three years of court supervised probation, 30 to 60 days on the Sheriff's work program, 18 month DMV approved DUI class, approximately $2,000 in fines, which can be paid in installments over the three year probation term. While on probation you will not be permitted to drive with any alcohol in your system, and you are required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a peace officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC over .15%
  • BAC over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing a chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

If you are still on probation for your first DUI at the time of your arrest, you will also face additional penalties for the violation of probation on that case.

Third DUI

A third DUI charge within ten years will result in increased penalties, including possible terms of imprisonment. As with a second DUI, if you are on probation for a prior DUI at the time of your arrest, you face addition penalties for violating probation terms.

San Mateo County (Redwood City and South San Francisco)
Typical negotiated plea to a third DUI: Three years of court supervised probation, 18 month DMV approved DUI class, approximately $2,250 in fines, which can be paid in installments over the three year probation term. You also face 6 to 9 months in jail, with the possibility to serve a substantial part of the sentence in an approved residential rehabilitation facility. While on probation you will be prohibited from consuming any alcohol or being inside any establishment that sells alcohol as its main business, including bars. You are also required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC over .15%
  • BAC over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing a chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

Santa Clara County (San Jose and Palo Alto)
Typical negotiated plea to a third DUI: Three years of court supervised probation, 18 months DMV approved DUI class, approximately $2,000 in fines, which can be paid in installments over the three year probation term. You also face 6 to 9 months in jail, with alternative sentencing options determined on a case by case basis. While on probation you will not be permitted to drive with any alcohol in your system, and you are required to submit to a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement officer.

Factors that enhance penalties include:

  • BAC over .15%
  • BAC over .20%
  • Excessive speed (over 20 mph above the limit on surface streets, 30 mph on freeways)
  • Having a child in the car
  • Refusing a chemical test
  • If you are under 21, additional license suspension applies

Fourth DUI

In all counties throughout California, a fourth DUI within 10 years will usually be charged as a felony DUI. This means that there is a maximum sentence of three years in a state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. In both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, typical plea bargains involve substantial jail time and/or time in a residential rehabilitation facility.

DMV Penalties

In addition to the penalties handed down by a criminal court, you also face consequences from the DMV. License suspensions and revocations are often the most devastating part of DUI convictions, placing great limitations on you that can affect your ability to work. If you wish to challenge the DMV suspension, you must request DMV hearing within 10 calendar days of your arrest. The Law Office of James Dunn is prepared to handle DMV proceedings on your behalf and to establish the technicalities or sufficient evidence in your favor, which can result in saving your license.

Mr. Dunn has a great deal of experience and insight in dealing with DMV hearing and license suspension. In fact, he won the landmark case, Brenner v. DMV, by fighting the technicalities all the way up to the California Supreme Court. In the decision, the court upheld the ruling won by Mr. Dunn, and even went as far as making it stand as the law of the land in the state of California. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Dunn, drivers charged with a DUI can challenge testing inaccuracies that would otherwise lead to unfair license suspensions.

If you do not request a DMV hearing, or if the hearing officer rules against you, you can expect the following:

First DUI
A first time DUI arrest can result in an automatic license suspension for four months, beginning 30 days after the arrest. The pink "temporary license" is your driver's license for that 30 day period. As your license will be taken away, you will have to use some other form of picture Id, such as a passport or a California ID.

After 30 days, you can get a restricted license that allows you to drive for work, school and DUI class purposes once you have enrolled in the DUI class and file a SR-22 with the DMV. The SR-22 links your insurance company to the DMV so that if you drop your insurance, the DMV will immediately suspend your license. The restriction will last for five months.

Second DUI (Within 10 Years)
The DMV will suspend your license for two years, with no driving allowed for a full year. You may be eligible for a restricted license after 90 days. In order to qualify for this restricted license, you must file an SR-22, enroll in a DMV approved 18 month DUI class and install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car. The IID is basically a breathalyzer that you must use before starting your vehicle and periodically as you drive. The IID requirement and the restrictions on your license will last the duration of the two years.

Third DUI (Within 10 Years)
The DMV will revoke your license for a minimum of three years, but new legislation can allow the judge in your criminal proceeding to revoke your license for up to 10 years. After six months of license suspension, you can apply for a restricted license if you file an SR-22, enroll in a multiple offender DUI class and install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle. The IID requirement and restrictions will last for the duration of your revocation.

Fourth DUI (Within 10 Years)
The DMV will revoke your license for up to 10 years. After 12 months of license suspension, you can apply for a restricted license if you file an SR-22, enroll in a multiple offender DUI class and install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. The IID requirement and other restrictions will last for the balance of the revocation.

Contact a San Mateo DUI lawyer today!

There is no denying the fact that both the criminal and DMV penalties for a DUI can be downright harsh. In order to reduce your risk of suffering the maximum penalties, including costly fines, possible terms of imprisonment and debilitating license suspensions, you need the experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated legal assistance the firm can provide. If you or a loved one has been charged with any DUI related charge, contact the Law Office of James Dunn to learn about the possible penalties you face and how the firm can eliminate or reduce them.