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DUI Offenses in California



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California DUI Attorneys

Just getting one DUI charge is enough, but unfortunately some of us make the mistake a second, even a third time. Where do you begin to prepare a defense? First you understand the penalties involved. Then you consider a lawyer. And finally you plan a strategy to avoid getting maximum penalties. This guide will show you how it’s possible to have all charges thrown out, or at the very least lessen California DUI penalties.

A DUI attorney should be honest with you about your chances. For one, if you face a jury who believes you are guilty of a DUI, you need to plea bargain. If you lie about this and try to fight it, it really hurts your chances with the jury. Typically, the blood alcohol level tester is involved; if you have a blood alcohol level over 0.08%, you can expect trouble with a jury. California juries, like most, will consider that the proof they need.

Most DUI attorneys in California have experience in handling juries, mainly because you have a better chance in front of a jury than a judge. Many judges are used to being lied to, which can make it difficult for you to fight the case.

The blood alcohol level may not always be a bad thing. If you can prove the blood alcohol level was close to the limit, you have better standing. If your blood alcohol level was tested to be very high, much higher than the legal limit, you won’t have much chance.

Felony or Misdemeanor?

You definitely want to fight for felony charges to be lessened to misdemeanor charges. If guilt is clear, your California DUI lawyer might be able to limit the penalties. However, there are few if any deals when it comes to prosecuting a California DUI; most of the time, a punishment is given. If you are a repeat offender, there is a high probability of a felony. If on the other hand you made one mistake, you may be able to fight for a misdemeanor. This is assuming you have no chance of winning.

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How can you beat the drunk driving charges?

You do have a chance of winning against any charges, misdemeanor or felony, by understanding the process, your rights, and the importance of professional representation like a DWI attorney. As noted, prosecutors and judges are rarely lenient with DUI offenders. However, there are effective strategies for beating these charges. You might question how the officer arrested you; if they had no reason to pull you over, you can fight based on being profiled. You might also question how the breath and blood tests were done. Sometimes levels of alcohol read higher than they are.

Hiring a California DUI Lawyer

These decisions should be made by more than individuals and families. No two cases are the same. While it’s sometimes best to put the case in front of a jury, you might in fact get a judge will to hear your arguments. Therefore, hiring a California DUI lawyer with the experience needed to fight your case is the logical final step. If you cannot afford a DUI lawyer, ask the judge for help and they will refer you to a lawyer to handle your case.

Complete our Free Case Evaluation form and a California DUI Lawyer will review your case for FREE!


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California Penalties and Fines, per DUI Offense

Penalties get more severe with each California DUI offense

First DUI Offense in California


For any DUI charge in any state, the first offense is obviously the one where you have room for negotiation and a better opportunity for defense. You almost always get misdemeanor charge. There are infractions, such as a speeding ticket; misdemeanors, like a DUI; and felonies, such as if you crash into someone while under the influence. A misdemeanor charge does mean you have potential jail time, that you pay fees of $400 to $1,000, and your license can be suspended (usually 4 months but sometimes more). Once you are eligible for your license, have paid all fines, and have fulfilled other requirements, you can start driving again, but usually with an ignition interlock device.

1st offense:

(misdemeanor if non-injury)

  1. Jail time between 48 hours and 6 months
  2. Fines/costs-$390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments
  3. License suspension - 4 months. Restored after 30 days upon showing hardship.
  4. Ignition interlock device installed on vehicle
  5. Mandatory alcohol education if under 21
  6. Three years informal probation
  7. Possible community service

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The more DUI arrests you get, the stiffer the penalties and the higher the chances of both extended jail time and suspension of license for extended periods. If you get another DUI after you first offense, you typically get penalized the most if it’s within 10 years of your previous California DUI.

2nd and Multiple DUI Offenses


As with all states, California DUI penalties get worse the more you get. You risk a felony charge with multiple DUI charges. You have mandatory jail time, usually several months, just for a second DUI. Your license can be suspended, you may be forced to do community service, and you’ll also have to pay some fines. If you hurt someone while driving under the influence, that only places you in more trouble. Say you were drinking, tried driving home while intoxicated, and you hit a parked car with someone inside going very fast. That alone can lead to some serious charges, especially if the other driver is hurt badly. If they are killed, you may face what’s called “vehicular homicide” charges, which are as extreme as they sound.

Second DUI Offense in California:

(misdemeanor if non-injury)

  1. • Jail time 90 – 120 days to one year
  2. • Fines and costs - $390 to $1,000
  3. • Possible vehicle impoundment
  4. • DUI school – 18 to 30 months
  5. • Ignition interlock device installed on vehicle
  6. • Probation of 3-5 years
  7. • Possible community service
  8. • License suspension of 2 years

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Related California DWI and DUI Pages

Statistics - California Drunk Driving Statistics
California DUI Law - What California DUI Laws Means to You
Chemical Test - Refusing a Chemical Test in California
DWI Charges - California DUI Charges and Laws


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