Many people take the chance of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol knowing that people do it and get away with it on a regular basis. In fact, it is very likely that the majority of people who drive under the influence escape the law. This doesn’t mean, however, that a large amount of them do get caught. What many people do not realize is that the chance taken by driving under the influence is never worth the consequences that you will face if you are convicted. Obviously, the best way to avoid serious legal consequences is to avoid drinking and driving completely. But, if you are charged with a DUI, you will need to hire an experienced lawyer to help you understand and manage the associated charges.
You are probably aware that a misdemeanor conviction is much less severe than a felony conviction. What you may not realize is that a misdemeanor can still land a person in jail for up to a year. California penalties for DUIs are amongst the most severe in the nation. If a person is arrested for their first, second, or third DUI in California, it is considered a misdemeanor in most cases, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t engage a Santa Cruz criminal lawyer to assist you throughout the process.
If you are convicted of your very first DUI in California, you could face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to twenty-six hundred dollars and a license suspension lasting up to ten months. In some counties you may even be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car, which will cost even more money to pay for your penalties.
A second DUI conviction is even more severe than the first. A person convicted of a second DUI in California will face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to twenty-eight hundred dollars. Those individuals convicted a second time also face a license suspension of up to two years and a mandatory ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle.
Once a person is arrested with a third DUI, the consequences are even worse. A respected Santa Cruz criminal lawyer tells us that the minimal jail time related to a third DUI is four months, and it may extend up to one full year. The fine is also severely increased to a maximum of eighteen thousand dollars. The license suspension will last a full three years and an ignition interlock device will once again be mandatory. These penalties may seem harsh, but they pale in comparison to those related to a felony DUI.
Felonies are crimes that can be punished with over a year of prison time, therefore most DUIs are not charged as such. In California there are three instances when a DUI can be charged as a felony. First, the most common way be charged with a felony DUI is by having three DUI convictions in a ten year period. The fourth will be charged as a felony. Second, if a DUI causes an injury or the death of another person, it will also be charged as a felony. Finally, any DUI obtained after a person has already been convicted of one felony DUI is considered yet another felony. Most people charged with felony DUIs will face up to three years in prison and permanent loss of their license. There is also a chance that if a person is killed as a result of another’s intoxicated driving, the driver may face life in prison.
No DUI is a minor offense. Even receiving one driving under the influence conviction can affect a person’s entire life for years to come. Unfortunately, for repeat offenders, if one DUI conviction leads to another, the penalties only get worse. In some cases, a DUI charge that would usually carry a ten year sentence could turn into a life sentence if there were prior DUI convictions. Because of this, it is important for anyone charged with a DUI to get a competent lawyer. Handling a DUI correctly the first time around is imperative to living a normal life in the future.