Drunk driving is a serious offense involving operating a vehicle under alcohol or drug influence. When a driver is intoxicated, the likelihood of causing a serious accident is high. This makes California DUI laws very strict. Facing an arrest and charges for DUI attracts severe and life-long consequences. The situation worsens if you have had a prior DUI conviction in the last ten years.
Since DUI is a priorable offense, the penalties for a second offense are more severe than for the first. A conviction of a second DUI offense means a lengthier jail sentence, more fines, and a longer license suspension. Additionally, a DUI conviction carries collateral consequences that will affect you long after serving your jail sentence.
If you or your loved one face an arrest for a second DUI, you will require the guidance of a skilled attorney to fight the charges. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we work hard to protect your rights and secure a favorable outcome in your case. We serve clients seeking legal guidance and representation to fight DUI charges in Pasadena, CA.
Understanding Second DUI Charges
A second DUI charge arises when you face an arrest for drunk driving and have a prior DUI conviction or “wet reckless” in ten years. DUI involves operating a vehicle with a BAC that exceeds the legal limit or with conduct impaired by alcohol or drugs. The BAC legal limit varies depending on your license type, including the following:
- 08% for drivers operating on a standard driver’s license.
- 04% for drivers on a commercial license.
- 04% for underage drivers.
In California, drunk driving is a priorable offense. Therefore, your prior convictions for the offense could affect your sentencing and punishment for a current arrest and charge. The more convictions you have, the harsher the consequences of a conviction.
After your arrest, the law enforcement officers and prosecution will check your criminal record before determining the type of charges to file against you. The process of an arrest is similar to that of a first DUI, and it involves initial interrogations, sobriety tests, and chemical tests.
Sentencing and Punishment for a Second Offense DUI in California
A conviction for a second DUI is more serious than your first offense. The penalties you will face following a conviction for the offense vary depending on the circumstances of your case. Suppose you are found guilty of a second DUI. In that case, you risk facing the following penalties:
- A minimum of ninety-six hours to a maximum of one year in jail.
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000.
- Three to five years of misdemeanor probation.
- Court-approved California DUI school for eighteen to thirty months.
- A two-year driver’s license suspension.
Ignition Interlock Device Installation
An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer built into your vehicle to prevent you from operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol . When you install the device on your vehicle dashboard, you must breathe an alcohol-free breath sample into it every time you want to start the vehicle.
When the court imposes an IID requirement after your second DUI, you must have the device professionally installed in all the vehicles that you operate. The IID requires random samples as you drive, and you must retain them for up to one year. Sometimes, the judge will order that you install this device as a condition of probation or requirement for a restricted license.
Driver’s License Suspension for a Second DUI Offense
The most dreaded consequence of a DUI conviction is the loss of your driver’s license. You can lose your driving privileges in a revocation or suspension. There are two forms of driver’s license suspension, including the following:
The court-triggered driver’s license suspension happens when you are found guilty and convicted of a DUI offense. For a second DUI offense, the court will impose a license suspension for up to two years.
Administrative License Suspension
The Department of Motor Vehicle triggers an APS license suspension when you lose your DMV hearing. After your arrest, the law enforcement officers will notify the DMV, who will seek to suspend your license. During the arrest. Your license is confiscated, and you are issued a notification that you can use it for up to thirty days.
The police officers will then notify your right to schedule a DMV hearing within ten days of the arrest. A DMV hearing is a less formal hearing held at the Department of Motor Vehicle offices. At this hearing, you can defend against the license suspension. Failure to schedule the hearing will result in an automatic license suspension. You have the following rights at the DMV hearing:
- Right to legal representation. Although this hearing is much more relaxed than a criminal trial, you have a right to have a lawyer. Your attorney will help you schedule the hearing on time and plan your defense.
- Right to review and challenge the evidence presented against you. Like in a criminal trial, your attorney can help you challenge the evidence presented in your case.
- Present witnesses, including the arresting officer. You have the right to call upon witnesses, including the arresting officers.
- Testify on your behalf. In a DMV hearing, you can give testimony to prove that you did not drive under the influence.
If you lose the hearing, the DMV will suspend your license. However, a win in the DMV hearing means that you can continue to operate your vehicle while you wait for the outcome of your criminal case. In addition to defending against a license suspension, you can use the DMV hearing to learn more about the prosecution's evidence against you and use it to build a defense for your criminal case.
Probation for a Second DUI Offense in California
Instead of spending time in jail for your second DUI, the court may send you to informal probation. Probation lasts three to five years, allowing you to perform community service and reform your character outside the jail. When sentencing you to probation, the court could attach the following conditions to your sentence:
- Avoid driving with a measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
- Avoid committing other crimes while on probation.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
- Payment of all your court fines.
- Victim restitution.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device.
If you violate any of these conditions, you risk facing criminal charges for probation violations.
Collateral Consequences for a Second DUI Conviction
If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will suffer the following collateral consequences:
Increased Auto Insurance Premiums
Your auto insurance company will be notified of your DUI as soon as you face an arrest. Being a second-time offender means you are a riskier driver, which could cause a cancellation of your policy or increased premiums. One of the ways through which your insurance costs will rise is through the SR-22 requirement when you wish to reinstate a suspended driver’s license. The cost of the SR-22 will vary depending on the type of insurance you hold.
A DUI conviction remains in your criminal record until it is expunged or you seek another relief. In California, criminal convictions are public records and can be accessible to anyone. When a potential employer performs a background check and finds a conviction, they can use it to deny you a job opportunity.
Commercial drivers often depend on their ability to operate the vehicle to earn a living. Losing the license in a suspension or revocation could affect your livelihood significantly. Additionally, a potential employer will interpret the conviction as you being an unsafe driver.
Loss of Professional License
Some professionals, like lawyers, doctors, brokers, nurses, and dentists, require a state license to practice in the field. Often, the professional board will check your criminal record before granting you a license or allowing you to renew an existing one. With a DUI conviction, you could suffer a professional license suspension or revocation.
College and Educational Consequences
Some institutions will not accept your college application when you have multiple DUI convictions. Even when you are accepted into college, receiving financial assistance to cover your tuition may be challenging. Most scholarships available for college students assist individuals with a clean record and demonstrated ability to obey the laws. Therefore, if these positions are limited or competitive, having a DUI conviction could dim your chances.
Facing a criminal conviction as an immigrant in the United States will always threaten your immigration status. Sometimes, there are aggravating factors like causing an injury in your DUI case. If you caused an accident and injuries to another person dating your second DUI, you risk facing serious immigration consequences. Negative immigration consequences could include deportation or be rendered inadmissible.
A conviction for a second DUI within ten years can change how people view you. For example, if you wish to run for a political seat, a DUI conviction could be used to discredit your character.
Expunging a Second DUI conviction
The consequences of a second DUI offense go beyond jail time and fines. After your conviction, you will have a criminal record that is difficult to shake off. A DUI conviction can affect multiple aspects of your life, including the ability to obtain employment and obtain a professional license.
Fortunately, California law allows you to seek relief from the disabilities of your conviction through an expungement. However, you must meet the state requirements to qualify for the relief. You can expunge your second DUI conviction if you complete your probation successfully. A probation sentence is complete when you follow all the court-imposed probation conditions and serve the entire sentence. You can also apply for the expungement when you secure an early probation termination.
If you met the eligibility criteria, you could file an expungement petition with the court. If the court grants your petition, you can withdraw the guilty verdict, and your case will be dismissed. If you suffered a conviction after a verdict from the jury, the court sets aside the verdict before dismissing your case.
In California, employers and landlords cannot use an expunged record to deny you a job or a place to live. Although the conviction is not erased from your record, its effects on your life are diminished. You must understand that expunging the conviction will not overturn the decision if your license is revoked or suspended for DUI.
Legal Defense Against Second DUI Charges
A Second DUI charge attracts serious legal and collateral consequences. However, not all arrests for the offense will attract a conviction. With the guidance of a skilled DUI attorney, you can use the following defenses in your case:
The most critical piece of evidence in a DUI case is your BAC test results. Often, your blood alcohol content is tested using a breath and breathalyzer test. If your BAC is below the legal limit or you can dispute the accuracy of the test results, you can avoid a conviction for the second DUI. Several ways you can argue that you were not intoxicated include the following:
- Rising BAC. If your BAC from the blood test exceeded the legal limit, you could argue that it was lower at the DUI stop and only rose during the investigation and arrest period.
- Explain away the high BAC. Consumption of alcoholic drinks is not the only reason your BAC could rise above the limit. You can argue that a medical condition like diabetes or residual mouth alcohol caused the high BAC.
- Improper handling of samples. A blood test is the most reliable way to test blood alcohol content. However, you can dispute the test results by arguing that the blood samples were improperly handled.
You Were not Driving
DUI cases will only stick if it is clear that you were driving the vehicle. In California, you cannot be convicted of drunk driving unless you operate the vehicle. In cases where police officers investigate a DUI after an accident, they may be unsure of the person operating the vehicle. Having a prior conviction could make you a likely suspect. If you prove that you were not driving, you will avoid a DUI conviction and its consequences.
Lack of a Probable Cause for a DUI Stop
A DUI criminal case will begin after an arrest at a DUI checkpoint, after an arrest, or when the traffic officer suspects you of drunk driving. Often, sobriety checkpoints are advertised, and the officers must follow specific rules when stopping the drivers and investigating for DUI. If the police have not set up a checkpoint, they must have probable cause to arrest you. Common acts that could give law enforcement officers probable cause to stop your vehicle and begin a DUI investigation include the following:
- Swerving from lane to lane.
- Running a red light.
Without probable cause for a DUI stop, all the evidence of DUI collected against you will not be admissible in court.
Violation of your Constitutional Rights
Even when there is probable cause for a DUI stop or arrest, there are rules that the law enforcement officer must follow. Failure to do this violates your rights and could result in a dismissal of your DUI case. Some common forms of police misconduct during DUI investigations include a failure to read your Miranda rights and coercing you to submit to tests.
Frequently Asked Questions about 2nd Offense DUI
Facing an arrest and charges for a second DUI is a devastating experience. Therefore, you may feel like you need clarification and clarification on the steps to take in the case. The following are some frequently asked questions on second DUI charges in California:
What is a “Wet Reckless”?
A wet reckless is a plea deal offered to individuals facing DUI charges. Under California Penal Code 231-3. Wet reckless involves reckless driving with an alcohol notation. You cannot face an arrest and charges for a “wet reckless.” Instead, your DUI defense attorney negotiates with the prosecution for this reduced sentence. Most people seek a “wet reckless” for the DUI case because wet reckless attracts less severe penalties and no mandatory license suspension.
Mostly, the prosecution will accept the plea deal when their case against you is not strong enough to obtain a DUI conviction.
What are the aggravating factors in my second DUI case?
An aggravating factor is any circumstance that could impact the nature of your penalties after a conviction. When you face criminal charges for a second DUI offense in California, the following aggravating factors could apply:
- Driving with a BAC of 0.125% or higher. The legal BAC limit in California is 0.08% when you operate on a standard driver’s license. Therefore, having a BAC of 0.15%, almost double the legal limit, will attract more serious penalties.
- Failure to submit to chemical tests. Operating a vehicle in California means that you have consented to the tests taken during DUI investigations. While refusing the breathalyzer test may not impact your case, failure to submit to a blood test after an arrest could result in a mandatory license suspension, among other penalty enhancements.
- Being an underage driver. California has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. Drivers under twenty-one years risk an arrest and conviction for operating with a BAC of 0.01% or more. The penalties are harsher if an underage driver faces charges for a second DUI.
- Having a minor in the vehicle. Operating a vehicle under the drug or alcohol influence is dangerous. When you have a child in the vehicle during your second DUI arrest, you will face additional charges for child endangerment and a harsher sentence for your DUI.
- Driving on a suspended license. There are various reasons why the court and DMV could impose a license suspension, including DUI, hit and run, and vehicular manslaughter. If you are arrested for a second DUI with a suspended license, you could face additional charges under California VC 14601.
What happens when being arrested for a second DUI while on probation for the first?
Committing another crime while on probation is a serious offense. A failed drug test while on DUI probation will also have serious repercussions. The court may revoke your probation and reinstate your original jail sentence if you are found guilty and convicted of the second DUI. Additionally, you may find it challenging to receive a probation sentence for your second offense.
How does a refusal to take chemical tests affect my second DUI case?
You must consent to a blood test after an arrest for drunk driving in California. Failure to do this will result in a mandatory license suspension and denial of a restricted driver’s license.
Is it a second offense if my first DUI conviction was outside California?
The Department of Motor Vehicles in California receives information from all states when you apply for a driver’s license. If you have a prior out-of-state DUI conviction, it is considered your first offense for the sentencing of your current conviction. However, the conviction will only count if it happened within the last ten years.
Find a Reliable DUI Lawyer Near Me
DUI laws seek to punish drivers who operate vehicles while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. After your arrest, the prosecutor can file different charges depending on the type of driver’s license with which you operate and your criminal record. You will be charged with a second DUI offense if you have a prior conviction for drunk driving or wet reckless on your record.
When a law enforcement officer arrests you for drunk driving, and you end up in a police cell, the prosecutors will do a background check on you before filing criminal charges. Often, a prior conviction will count in your current conviction if it happened within the last ten years. California law is stringent on repeat offenders. Therefore, you will face more serious penalties after your second conviction.
In addition to incarceration and fines, a second DUI conviction can cause you to lose your driver’s license through revocation or suspension. Therefore, hiring and retaining a competent DUI lawyer throughout your case is a priority. If you or a loved one battle DUI charges in Pasadena, CA, you will benefit from our legal guidance at Pasadena Criminal Attorney. Contact us at 626-689-2277.