As a “priorable” offense, the penalties for driving under the influence increase each time you are convicted of driving under the influence in California. Driving under the influence is always a California misdemeanor unless:
- It is the person’s fourth DUI offense
- The DUI resulted in injury to a third party
- The person had a prior felony DUI
Here’s what you can expect for the different levels of a California DUI conviction:
On the first DUI offense, a California driver can expect to face between $390 and $1,000 in fines, between 4 days and 6 months in county jail, and a three-month or nine-month substance abuse education course. In addition, a first offense comes with a license suspension of 30 days to 10 months. However, at the judge’s discretion, this could be a “restricted” license instead, which allows the person to drive to and from work, school, and court-approved DUI courses. A first-time offender will also typically face three to five years of informal probation.
A second DUI offense within 10 years triggers more harsh penalties. A California driver convicted of his or her second DUI faces a minimum of 96 hours and a maximum of one year in county jail, as well as between $390 and $1,000 in fines. A second-time offender is also required to attend an 18-month or 30-month California DUI course and can have his or her license suspended for up to two years. (Note: After one year, this suspension can be converted to a restricted license, as discussed above.) It is important to note that the penalties for a second and third DUI, while they must fall within the minimums and maximums set by law, can vary from county to county.
A third DUI offense within 10 years comes with a minimum of 120 days and maximum of one year in county jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and a 30-month DUI education course. A third-time offender will also face a three-year license suspension (which can be converted to a restricted license after 18 months). A third-time offense also comes with three to five years of informal probation and installation of an ignition interlock device, which does not allow the car to start until an alcohol-free breath sample is provided.
DUI with injury
If driving under the influence leads to the injury of a third party, it can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony under California law.
A misdemeanor DUI with injury can lead to a minimum of five days and maximum of one year in county jail, up to $5,000 in fines, and license suspension for one to three years. A California driver convicted of a misdemeanor DUI with injury must also pay restitution to the injured parties and participate in a 3-month, 18-month, or 30-month DUI education program.
A felony DUI with injury triggers all the penalties of a misdemeanor DUI with injury, with a few additions; a convicted driver would face 16 months to 10 years in California state prison, with an additional 1 to 6 years in prison depending on the number of people injured and the severity of their injuries. A felony DUI with injury can also count as a strike on your record under California’s Three Strikes law.