Misdemeanor DUI (1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI within 10 years)
Most first, second, and even third DUIs (within a ten year period) are charged as misdemeanors. However, the consequences for a conviction on subsequent DUIs become increasingly more serious, as an Orange County misdemeanor DUI attorney can explain further.FIRST OFFENDER DUI
You go out to dinner with an old friend you haven't seen in years. The two of you order a bottle of wine to enjoy over your meal and conversation. You only have two glasses of wine and with that big dinner you don't feel inebriated at all. As you are driving home, the car behind you rear-ends your car. It's not a serious accident, just a bump. A police officer happens to drive by and sees you and the other driver exchanging information. The officer stops to assist. As you are speaking to the officer, she detects an odor of alcohol and asks you if you have been drinking. You tell her you had two glasses of wine earlier with dinner. She asks you to take a Field Sobriety Test (FST) to which you submit, figuring you'll pass the tests with flying colors. You don't, or at least the officer has determined that you didn't pass. After the FST, she asks you to blow into a breathalyzer twice. She then arrests you for DUI—your second breathalyzer blow registered a .08% blood alcohol level (BAC). You are stunned and shocked, you aren't a big drinker and you certainly wouldn't drive drunk.
Many people don't realize that a .08% BAC usually doesn't cause obvious intoxication. Many people also think they can drive just fine after a couple of drinks and they don't consider that they may come in contact with an officer for reasons other than being pulled over for a driving violation. The DUI laws in California are strict and even a first-time offender can face serious consequences.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you should contact an experienced misdemeanor DUI attorney in Orange County immediately. In the scenario above, an experienced DUI attorney can argue for a reduced charge (such as a driving infraction) or even get the DUI charge thrown out completely. William Weinberg has defended many DUI cases and will diligently pursue the best possible outcome in your case. He has an intimate understanding of the complexity of the DUI laws and can identify any viable defense in your case.PUNISHMENT1
An arrest for a first time DUI will usually result in a charge under Vehicle Code section 231522 subdivisions (a) and (b). The arrest will result in the confiscation of the driver's license and issuance of a 30-day temporary driver license, with a suspension of driving privileges 30 days after the arrest. If the driver wants to challenge the suspension, he or she must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest. The DMV hearing is completely separate and apart from the criminal proceedings.
If the driver does not request a DMV administrative hearing or the administrative hearing is not found in the driver's favor, the DMV will suspend the driver's license for a period of 4 months3. But it gets even more complicated because if the driver is convicted by the court, the suspension is for 6 months4. Even if the criminal conviction is reduced to a lesser offense, such as a reckless driving which does not result in a driver license suspension, the DMV four-month suspension remains. As you can see, the laws regarding DUI can be very confusing.
A criminal conviction for a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor but it still has serious consequences. Not only will your license be suspended but you will be put on probation (usually informal probation) and you will be required to complete a number of alcohol awareness courses. Although it rarely happens, a first-time DUI offender can even be sentenced to up to six months in jail. There are also fines and costs associated with the punishment that can be substantial. Your insurance rates will also increase.
Under certain circumstances, a first-time DUI can result in enhanced penalties. Some of these circumstances include a BAC above .15%, having a child under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the arrest, causing an accident, and reckless driving. You also face enhanced penalties if at the time of your DUI arrest, you are under the age of 21. Finally, if you refused to submit to a chemical test, you face enhanced penalties if you are convicted of a DUI that will be in addition to the punishments imposed, most notably mandatory imprisonment5.SECOND and THIRD OFFENSE DUIs
As with a first-time DUI, a second or third DUI conviction is a misdemeanor charged under Vehicle Code section 231526. However, the punishment and consequences are more severe. A second or third DUI is a priorable offense. That means if a driver has been convicted of a DUI in the previous ten years, any subsequent DUI within that period will result in increased punishment7.
As is the case in all DUI arrests, the driver is subject to both a DMV administrative action and the separate criminal action. A DMV administrative hearing must be requested within ten days of the arrest if the driver wants to challenge the automatic DMV suspension of his or her driver license. If the DMV administrative hearing does not find in the driver's favor or the driver did not request a hearing, his or her license will be suspended by the DMV for one year on a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI.8 If, following the DMV administrative hearing, the hearing officer finds in the driver's favor, the DMV will not suspend the driver's license. Whatever the outcome of the DMV administrative hearing, the arrested driver will still face a separate criminal hearing before the court.
Navigating the complex DUI laws requires the knowledge and skill of an experienced Orange County misdemeanor DUI lawyer. William Weinberg has defended many DUI cases and can be most effective defending the more serious DUIs, such as second and third offense DUIs, where the potential punishments can be severe. If you are facing a second or third DUI charge, you need the expertise of an attorney like Mr. Weinberg who knows how to defend your case and is skilled at negotiating the best possible outcome. With the help of an experienced misdemeanor DUI lawyer in Orange County such as Mr. Weinberg, your charge may be reduced to a conviction on a charge with less serious consequences such as a "wet reckless9" or a "dry reckless10 charge. You should not go this alone!PUNISHMENT 11
A criminal conviction on a 2nd offense DUI can result in a court ordered suspension of your driver license for two years12, a minimum of four days in jail up to one year in jail, and up to five years informal probation. You will also be ordered to pay fines and fees and to complete second-offender DUI programs, which entail many hours of class time and substantial costs.
A third offense conviction carries even more penalties. This conviction can result in a three-year suspension of driving privileges12, a minimum of 120 days and up to a maximum of one-year in jail, and up to five years of informal probation. You will also be ordered to pay fines and fees and complete a 30-month DUI education program. A third offense DUI conviction will also result in a "Habitual Traffic Offender" designation on your DMV record for three years, which will expose you to increased penalties for subsequent driving offenses13.
Certain circumstances associated with a DUI arrest expose the driver to enhanced penalties. A BAC above .15%, having a child under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the arrest, causing an accident, and reckless driving can all result in punishments added to the punishment for the DUI. A driver also faces enhanced penalties if at the time of your DUI arrest, he or she is under the age of 21. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test and is ultimately convicted of a priorable DUI, he or she will face a revocation of his or driver license for a period of two years14.
1 VEH. CODE § 23152(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
2 VEH. CODE §13353.3(b)(1)
3 VEH. CODE §13352(a)(1)
4 VEH. CODE §23612(a)(1)(D)
5 VEH. CODE §23152 (a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
6 VEH. CODE §23622
7 VEH. CODE §13353.3(b)(2)(A)
8 VEH. CODE §23103.5
9 VEH. CODE §23103
10 VEH. CODE §§13352, 23540, 23542,23546, and 23600
11 Restriction eligibility for non-commercial driving privileges may be reinstated after 12 months.
12 Restriction eligibility for non-commercial driving privileges may be reinstated after 12 months.
13 VEH. CODE §14601.3
14 VEH. CODE §23612(a)(1)(D)