You are arrested and charged with a second offense DUI if you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and have a prior DUI conviction. Since California DUI laws are more stringent on repeat offenders, you will likely suffer more severe consequences after conviction for a second DUI. In addition to the jail time, fines, and license suspension which results from a second DUI conviction, you may face other life-changing consequences that last long after the penalties are over.
If you or your loved one faces charges for a second DUI, it is crucial to discuss the situation with a competent DUI defense attorney. At Koenig Law Office, we work hard to ensure that you receive the most thorough and effective defense to avoid a conviction for the second DUI offense. If you need legal guidance to fight your DUI charges in Bakersfield, CA, you will need us by your side.
Overview of Second DUI Offense in California
California DUI law is strict on DUI repeat offenders. When you face an arrest and charges for a second DUI, one common question that presents itself is how the punishment differs from those given after a first DUI conviction. Before you are convicted for a second DUI offense, the prosecutor must prove that:
- You were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In California, you are considered driving under the influence if your BAC at the time of arrest exceeded the legal limit, or your conduct was impaired.
- You have a prior DUI conviction. A second DUI conviction occurs when you have a previous conviction for drunk driving or wet reckless.
Penalties for a Second DUI Conviction in California
If you face a conviction for a second DUI offense in California, the court could impose the following penalties:
- A mandatory jail sentence of ninety-six hours to one year.
- Misdemeanor probation for three to five years.
- Fines and penalty assessment of up to $1,000.
- Completion of an approved DUI school for eighteen to thirty months.
- A two-year's driver's license suspension. If your driver's license is suspended for a second DUI, you may be able to obtain a restricted license after the first year. The limited license allows you to drive to specific areas like school and work.
When the court imposes probation after your DUI conviction, it often acts as an alternative to the jail sentence. Probation for a second DUI lasts between three and five years. The judge imposes the following probation conditions that you must follow:
- Avoid operating a vehicle with a measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
- You should avoid engaging in criminal activity while out on probation.
- If you are arrested while on probation, you must submit to a chemical test
- Restitution. If you caused an accident and injuries to another person while driving under the influence, you might be required to compensate them.
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device. If the judge imposes probation as part of your second DUI conviction, the judge will require you to install an IID on any vehicle you own or drive.
In addition to the criminal and administrative penalties for a second offense DUI, there are other repercussions that you will face after a conviction for this offense, including:
- Losing your job or lower chance of securing employment. DUI convictions are public records in California. Most employers will often carry out a background check before offering you a job. In their background check, the employer can discover your DUI conviction and use it as a basis to disqualify you for employment.
- Rejection to university or college. Having a conviction for a second DUI in your record could affect your chances of being accepted into a good college or university.
- Negative effects on your vehicle insurance. Facing a DUI conviction depicts you as a negligent driver. After your conviction, the Department of Motor Vehicle will notify your car insurance provider to increase your insurance premiums.
- Rejection from serving in the military. Your request to join the military may be denied if you have a 2nd DUI conviction in your record.
Factors that could Increase the Penalties for a Second DUI
Some circumstances could aggravate your second DUI offense in California. Some of the common aggravating factors include:
- Having a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher. The legal BAC limit for driving in California on a standard driver's license is 0.08%. If you are arrested for a second DUI with a BAC of 0.15% or more, your penalties will be enhanced.
- Failure to submit to chemical tests. Having a driver's license in California automatically consents to chemical tests when suspected of drunk driving. Although the arresting officer cannot force you to take the test, failure to take the test could aggravate the situation and enhance your penalties.
- Driving with excessive speed. Your second DUI charge will attract more severe penalties if you drive while under the influence with excessive speed.
- Causing an accident. If you cause an accident while driving under the influence and are arrested for a second DUI, your charges will be aggravated.
- Having a minor in the vehicle. Having a child under fourteen years in the car while driving under drug influence is a crime. In addition to the DUI charge, this incident could attract charges for child endangerment.
Driver's License Suspension for Second DUI
Driver's license suspension is one of California's most dreaded consequences of a second DUI offense. There are two types of driver's license suspension:
Court Triggered License Suspension
When you have one prior DUI conviction in California, the court will impose a two-year driver's license suspension. However, the judge is not responsible for suspending. Upon your conviction, the court will notify the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicle suspends your license and, after a year, could allow you to drive with a restricted license. If your case results in a hung jury or you are found not guilty for a second DUI, you can avoid the court-triggered license suspension.
Administrative License Suspension
When you face charges for a second DUI in California, the DMV will attempt to suspend your driving privileges due to an administrative Per Se violation. After the arrest for a second DUI, you have up to ten days to request a DMV hearing. This will help put a hold on your license suspension. If you fail to request a DMV hearing, the Department of Motor Vehicle will suspend your license automatically.
It is essential to understand that your driver's license will be suspended for a Per Se violation if your BSC was 0.08% or more or you failed to submit to the chemical tests. The DMV hearing is informal and is independent of the criminal court hearing. A victory in your DMV hearing will not protect you from a conviction for drunk driving.
At the DMV hearing, you have the following rights:
- You have a right to be represented by a DUI attorney at the hearing.
- You can request that the officer that arrested you for being present at the hearing answer your questions.
- You can cross-examine the witnesses and present your witness.
- You have a right to present evidence to help you fight the suspension.
- If you request a DMV hearing within the specified time, your license cannot be suspended until after the hearing outcome.
If you win a DMV hearing, your license will not be suspended, and you can continue to drive as you await the outcome of your DUI criminal case. However, your license will automatically be suspended when you lose the hearing. If you lose your license for failure to schedule the hearing or losing it, you may be eligible to reinstate the license at some point if you:
- Enroll in California DUI school.
- Pay a reinstatement fee of up to $125.
- Submit an SR-22 insurance form.
- Install an ignition interlock device.
If your DUI charges are reduced to reckless driving in the criminal court, the reduction will not affect the nature of your suspension for a per se violation.
2nd DUI Restricted License
When your driver's license is suspended for a second DUI offense, you can be allowed to continue driving by obtaining a restricted license. There are two types of restricted licenses:
IID Restricted License
An ignition interlock device is a Breathalyzer device that stops your vehicle from starting if it detects that the driver is intoxicated. One of the ways through which you can continue to drive with a suspended license is by installing the IID in all the vehicles you own. Before obtaining an IID, you must file an SR22 form and complete DUI School. For a second DUI offense, the IID restricted license lasts for one year.
A restricted driver's license allows you to drive to and from school, work, and other court-imposed programs. After your license suspension, you can obtain the limited license after 90 days. You would face a two-year license revocation if you refused to take the chemical test at your second DUI arrest. In this case, you cannot obtain the restricted license.
Fighting 2nd Offense DUI Charges in California
An arrest for DUI does not always result in a conviction. Even when you face charges for a second DUI, you can employ different defense strategies to avoid the harsh consequences that accompany a conviction for this offense. Some of the common DUI defenses to potentially reduce or dismiss your charges include:
- Lack of probable cause of arrest. An officer must have a reasonable belief that you were driving under the influence before arresting you for DUI. If you can prove that there was no probable cause for your arrest, all evidence collected by the officer could be suppressed.
- Misconduct at the sobriety checkpoint. If the officer administering the field sobriety tests at the DUI checkpoint failed to follow the correct procedure, their evidence could be challenged.
- Challenging the accuracy of the BAC results. Your blood alcohol content is one of the most significant pieces of evidence in your DUI case. The BAC is obtained from blood and breath tests. If you can create a doubt in the accuracy of these test results, you may have a chance to fight your charges.
- Rising blood alcohol defense. You can fight your second DUI charge by arguing that your body was still absorbing the alcohol at the time of arrest, and by the time you reached the station, your BAC was higher than when you were driving.
DUI Plea Bargaining
You can opt for a plea bargain as a defense strategy when you face charges for a second drunk driving offense in California. A plea bargain will be an alternative to taking your DUI case to trial and suffering a conviction. However, a plea deal will be an agreement between your lawyer and the prosecutor.
Whether or not you seek and accept a plea deal for a DUI is a decision you should make after careful assessment of your case. Also, you need to consult a competent DUI defense attorney before accepting the deal. Some of the factors that your attorney could consider when seeking a plea bargain for your second DUI charges include:
- The strength of the prosecutor's case. It would often be best to make sure that the plea deal was beneficial to you. Your attorney may advise that you seek the plea deal if the prosecutor has a strong DUI case against you and the likelihood of a DUI conviction is high.
- The nature of your prior convictions. When you face charges for a second DUI, the severity of your punishment will increase. California DUI laws are stringent for repeat offenders. Accepting a plea bargain will help you avoid the harsh penalties accompanying a conviction for the second DUI offense.
- Your risk tolerance. Your DUI defense attorney will consider your willingness to take a risk before seeking a plea deal. If you believe that your case is strong enough and you can effectively defend yourself, then the plea deal may not be the best option for you.
When you accept a plea deal for DUI in California, you will need to plead guilty or no contest to lesser offenses like dry reckless, wet reckless, or exhibition of speed. Depending on the plea deal you choose to take, you could enjoy the following advantages:
- No mandatory driver's license suspension. After a second DUI conviction, you will likely suffer a mandatory driver's license suspension. However, this is not a requirement for most plea deals available for DUI.
- Lower fines and jail time. A conviction for a second DUI offense attracts a longer jail sentence and hefty fines. However, you can reduce the fines and jail time by seeking a plea deal.
- Less negative impact on your car insurance. If you face a DUI conviction in California, the DMV will notify your vehicle insurance provider of the conviction and license suspension. Drunk driving will affect your good driving record and cause the insurance company to increase your premiums. If you are convicted for a lesser offense like dry reckless or exhibition of speed, the impact on your vehicle insurance will be lower.
- Less social stigma. In addition to jail time, fines, and driver's license suspension, you may experience social stigma after a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs. If you seek a plea deal and are convicted for a lesser offense, you will experience less social stigma.
Some of the typical plea deals you may explore for your second DUI charge include:
- "Wet" reckless. Wet reckless is the first DUI charge reduction the prosecutor considers. Wet reckless is a reckless driving conviction with a note that alcohol was involved. However, a conviction for this offense attracts fewer penalties compared to DUI.
- "Dry" reckless. Unlike wet reckless, a dry reckless is the crime of reckless driving without the involvement of alcohol. One of the significant benefits you enjoy from this plea deal is that dry reckless does not count as a prior DUI on your criminal record.
- Exhibition of speed. Exhibition of speed is a less common plea bargain for DUI. However, your attorney can negotiate this reduction when the prosecutor's case is weak, and the likelihood of you facing a conviction for DUI is low. In most cases, an exhibition of speed will not result in jail time or license suspension.
- Traffic infractions. Pleading guilty or no contest for a traffic infraction is often the last resort when you face charges for a second DUI charge in California. Typically, traffic infractions are not criminal offenses and can only be punished by a small fine. In most cases. The prosecutor will accept this plea in cases where they are certain that the charges against you will not stick.
Find a Bakersfield DUI Defense Attorney Near
If you face charges for a second DUI offense, it is essential to understand that the consequences of a conviction are far more dramatic than those of a first DUI. Fortunately, an arrest for DUI does not always mean that you will be convicted. With the guidance of a competent DUI defense attorney, you can develop a solid defense to fight the charges and avoid the consequences of a conviction.
At Koenig Law Office, we will help fight the charges to ensure the best outcome in your DUI case. We serve clients requiring legal guidance and representation in Bakersfield, CA. Contact us today at 661-793-7222 to discuss the details of your situation.