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Los Angeles County DUI Penalties

Misdemeanor Penalties

1st Offense DUI
Upon conviction of a 1st Offense DUI, most people will receive a sentence that follows basic California statute:

Defendant shall be placed on informal probation for a period of 3-5 years. Referred to as "summary" probation, this requires that the defendant violate no law during the probationary period that results in arrest. During the probationary period, the defendant shall not drive with any "measureable" amount of alcohol in their blood. This is a "zero tolerance" issue and therefore 0.01 percent alcohol while driving is a violation of probation and can result in a one-year suspension of the driver license. The defendant shall only drive with a valid driver license and appropriate auto insurance.

Defendant shall pay a fine of $390 dollars, plus penalty assessment. Essentially, this takes the total fines to about $1,400.

Defendant shall attend and complete a "first offender" DUI school (AB-541) that is 3, 6, or 9 months in length.

Defendant's driving privilege shall be "restricted" to allow driving to and from work; during the course and scope of work; and to and from the first offender DUI school. The restriction shall remain in effect for 3 months.

Jail time: Although California Law does permit the incarceration of the defendant for 48 hours, most judges will grant probation in lieu of jail. As long as there are no aggravating factors in the case, most 1st offenders should not suffer jail time.

Collateral Sentences: In some instances, Los Angeles County judges may also assign special "extra" penalties. This can include attendance at AA meetings, attendance at an "Impact" meeting where MADD counselors discuss the impact that DUI can have on people's lives. The judge can assign community service or may require that the defendant attend the HAM (Hospital and Morgue) program.

Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, also known as an "IID." This is a breath device which is attached to the defendant's car and must be blown into before the engine will start. Currently, if the arrest occurred in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento County; installation of the IID is mandatory, even on a 1st offense.

Enhanced Penalties may occur if there are factors in the 1st offense that tend to aggravate the case. Examples of enhancements are:

  • Auto accident
  • Hit and Run
  • Children in car
  • Chemical test refusal
  • Speeding more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit
  • Alcohol enhancement for alcohol levels above .15 (Longer School)
  • Alcohol enhancement for alcohol levels above .20 (Jail)
  • Driving on a suspended license

2nd Offense DUI
Upon conviction of a 2nd offense DUI where the prior conviction for DUI or "wet reckless" is less than 10 years old, the following penalties apply:

The defendant shall be placed on summary probation for a period of 3-5 years with same terms and conditions as listed in the 1st offense.

A "mandatory minimum" of 96 hours in the county jail; to a maximum sentence of one year. If the 96 hours applies, this may be served on two consecutive weekends. It has been the policy of prosecutors in Los Angeles County to seek 90 days of jail time on a second offense.

Defendants shall pay a fine of $390, plus penalty assessment. This can take the total to nearly $2,000.

Defendant shall attend a 2nd offender DUI school that is either 18 months or 30 months in length.

A suspension of the driving privilege that may be upgraded to a "restricted" privilege after 90 days if the defendant installs an Ignition Interlock Device in their car.

Collateral Sentences: Similar to the 1st Offense, Orange County Judges are much more likely to assign additional duties to a defendant to attend AA classes, community service, or the HAM Program.

Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, also known as an "IID." This is a breath device attached to the defendant's car that must be blown into before the engine will start. Currently, if the arrest occurred in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento County; installation of the IID is mandatory, even on a 1st offense.

Enhanced Penalties may also be assessed in the 2nd offense if:

  • Defendant is still on probation for the prior
  • Auto Accident
  • Hit & Run
  • Children in car
  • Chemical test refusal
  • Alcohol levels exceeding .15%, (Longer school)
  • Alcohol levels exceeding .20%, (Longer jail time).
  • Speeding more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit
  • Driving on a suspended license

3rd Offense DUI
Upon conviction of a 3rd offense DUI where the two prior convictions for DUI, "wet reckless" or their combination; and occurring within 10 years prior to the new case, the following penalties apply:

The defendant shall be placed on summary probation for a period of 3-5 years with the same terms and conditions of the 1st or 2nd offense.

The defendant shall serve a "mandatory minimum" of 120 days in the county jail to maximum of one year.

The defendant shall pay a fine of $390, plus penalty assessment. This generally takes the total fine to nearly $2,500.

The defendant shall attend a 3rd offender DUI school that is 30 months in length.

A complete revocation of the driver license for a period of 3 years. The defendant MAY be eligible for upgrade to a "restricted" license after 90 days with the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in any car he or she drives.

In all likelihood, the DMV will render a finding that the defendant is a Habitual Traffic Offender.

Collateral sentences: In 3rd offense convictions, it is much more likely that a Los Angeles County Judge will impose additional penalties such as attendance at AA meetings or alcohol treatment program; community service, attendance at a victim "impact" meeting or participation in the HAM Program.

Installation of an "Ignition Interlock Device." This is a breath device attached to the defendant's car which must be blown into before the engine will start. Currently, if the arrest occurred in Los Angeles County, Alameda County, Tulare County or Sacramento County. The law also grants judges broad discretion in ordering the installation of the IID and on 3rd offense convictions; it is becoming more common.

Enhanced Penalties: In a 3rd offense conviction, if there are any "enhancements" it is much more likely that a judge will sentence the defendant to the maximum jail sentence which is 1 year in county jail. Enhancements that can trigger these penalties are:

  • Defendant still on probation for prior convictions
  • Auto Accident
  • Hit & Run
  • Children in car
  • Alcohol levels exceeding .20%
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Speeding more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit

4th Offense DUI
Where a defendant is charged with a 4th offense DUI where his or her 3 priors have all occurred within the preceding 10 years, the prosecutors will very likely file the new case as a felony. This is where the penalties for multiple DUI convictions can take a particularly painful turn. Upon a conviction of a 4th offense (Felony) DUI, the following penalties apply:

Commitment to the California Department of Corrections (State Prison) for a term of 16 months, 2 years or 4 years.

In lieu of State Prison time, the judge may sentence the defendant to a mandatory minimum of 180 days to one-year in the County Jail.

In some instances, and if the defendant makes a specific request, the judge may opt to sentence the defendant to a mandatory minimum of 30 days to one year in Los Angeles County Jail and the attendance and completion of a 30-month driving under the influence program as outlined in Health & Safety Code section 11836.

The term of probation shall be 5 years and may be mandated as formal probation requiring the defendant to report regularly to a probation officer.

The fines shall be a minimum of $390 to $1,000. With penalty assessments, this can easily take the total fine to $5,000.

If the defendant has not already relinquished his driver license, the judge shall order surrender of the license to the court.

The defendant shall be named a "habitual traffic offender" and his or her driving privilege shall be totally revoked for no less than three years.

The judge is very likely to sentence to the defendant to many hours of AA meetings and/or community service.

Felony DUI (injury)
Where a defendant is charged with felony DUI as a result of driving while driving while impaired and causing injury to someone else, the penalties can be quite severe and are tied, in large part, to the extent of injury suffered by the victim. Upon conviction of a felony DUI with injury, the defendant may be sentenced to:

Commitment to the California Department of Corrections (State Prison) for a term ranging from 16 months to 10 years. Additional terms of 1 to 6 years may be added for each additional injured person or the extent of their injuries. An allegation of "Great Bodily Injury," also known as GBI can cause the judge to sentence a person at the upper range of the sentencing scale.

The offense may be charged as a "strikeable" felony under the meaning of California's 3-Strike Law. This can affect the amount of time actually served in a prison sentence.

Fines and penalties that may range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Attendance and completion of an 18 to 30 month alcohol treatment program.

Complete revocation of the driver license for a period of 4 to 10 years.

A finding of "Habitual Traffic Offender" status for 3 years.

Upon release from State Prison, formal parole status for up to 5 years.

An order to pay restitution to all injured persons. If the monetary damages and injuries exceed the defendant's insurance policy limits, they can be ordered to pay the difference to insure the victims are "made whole." This can equate to years and years of monthly payments made to the victims. Failure to make restitution payments May result in a parole violation and return to custody.

Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings for an extended period of time.

Attendance at an "Impact Meeting" sponsored and taught by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Installation of an "Ignition Interlock Device," also known as an IID. This is a breath device attached to the defendant's car and must be blown into before the engine will start.

Manslaughter or 2nd Degree Murder DUI
In the world of DUI defense, these cases are the most complicated and the most costly, in terms of the potential penalties:

Commitment to the California Department of Corrections (State Prison) for a term which can range from 16 months to a full lifetime commitment. Depending upon the number of deaths, the number of additionally injured parties, the severity their injuries and wide array of other possible enhancements, the defendant in these cases may suffer penalties that completely alter their future.

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