Drugged or drunk-driving is an offense punished harshly in California since it puts other road users at risk. Penalties include hefty fines, jail/prison sentences, license suspension, probation, etc. All these consequences are imposed in an effort to try and curb DUI cases that are rampant. They may get more stringent, depending on which factor was at play during the commission of the offense.

If you’ve been charged with DUI, you have to reach out to a DUI defense attorney immediately. The attorney may be able to negotiate for a lesser offense like dry reckless so that you may face lenient penalties. Or, he/she may have your case dismissed altogether. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we have attorneys who dedicate their resources to serving you. They will ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case. In this article, we focus on the various penalties that different forms of DUI carry.

DUI Penalties

The punishments for drunk or drugged driving offenses vary depending on different factors. One of these factors is whether, during the commission of your crime, someone else died or was injured. Another consideration is whether or not you have past DUI convictions on your criminal record. The court also considers the general facts surrounding your offense, for instance, if you had a minor in the car during the commission of the DUI offense

Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanor offenses. But, other cases are charged as felonies depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. For instance, in case you have four or more previous DUI sentences on your criminal record, you will be subjected to felony charges. The same applies if another person is injured or dies due to your DUI offense. The penalties for DUI in Orange County are as discussed below:

First DUI Offense

A first DUI offense is charged as a misdemeanor. You will be convicted of this offense if you are caught drunk-driving for the first time. The punishments you will be subjected to include:

  • A fine that ranges from $390 to $1000
  • A maximum of six months in an Orange County jail
  • DUI probation for a period ranging from three to five years
  • DUI School program for a period ranging from three to nine months
  • Suspension of the driver’s license for six to ten months. But the court may order you to install an IID for six months so you can continue to operate your vehicle without any restrictions.

Second DUI Offense

A second DUI offense is also a misdemeanor. You will be prosecuted for this offense when you are caught drunk-driving for the 2nd time within ten years since the conviction of your first DUI offense. The consequences you will face for a second DUI offense are:

  • Ninety-six hours to one year in an Orange County jail
  • Three to five years of informal/summary probation
  • Eighteen to thirty months of a DUI School program approved by the court
  • A fine ranging between $390 and $1000
  • License suspension for up to two years or mandatory use of an Ignition Interlock Device  for one year

Third DUI Offense

A third DUI is also a misdemeanor offense, charged when you are caught driving while intoxicated for the third time within ten years of the previous two offenses. This crime is punishable by:

  • A fine ranging from $390 to $1000
  • A hundred and twenty days to a year in an Orange County jail
  • Suspension of your driving privileges for three years or mandatory installation of an IID for two years
  • Informal/misdemeanor probation for three to five years
  • A thirty-months drug/alcohol School program that is court-approved
  • Designation as a habitual traffic offender

Fourth or Subsequent DUI Offenses

A fourth DUI offense is prosecuted as a felony. That is why it is sometimes referred to as felony DUI. You will face fourth DUI charges if you are arrested drunk-driving for the fourth time within ten years since the commission of the first three offenses. The punishments for this crime include:

  • A fine ranging between $390 and $1000
  • A sentence in prison for three or two years, or sixteen months
  • Designation as a habitual traffic offender for three years
  • License suspension for four years or mandatory installation of an IID for two to three years
  • Felony probation for three to five years
  • DUI School program for thirty months

DUI Causing Injury

A DUI that causes injury is prosecuted under Vehicle Code (VC) 23153 as a wobbler offense. This means the prosecutor can choose to press felony or misdemeanor charges. The prosecutor will first consider the circumstances surrounding your specific offense and the criminal record before charging you.  If found guilty of a drugged or drunk-driving where someone else other than you got injured, you will be subject to the following penalties:

Misdemeanor consequences

  • Summary probation for between three and five years
  • Between five days and a year in an Orange County jail
  • A three, eighteen, or thirty months of court-approved DUI School program
  • A fine ranging between $390 and $500
  • Victim restitution
  • Driving privilege suspension for one year or mandatory use of an Ignition Interlock Device for a period not exceeding six months

Felony consequences

  • A fine of between $1,015 and $5000
  • A strike on your criminal record as per the Three Strikes Law
  • Eighteen to thirty months of court-approved DUI School program
  • Up to ten years of a prison sentence. You may also face an additional & consecutive prison sentence of between one and six years. This depends on the total number of people you injured and how severe the injuries were
  • Designation as a habitual traffic offender for three years
  • Victim restitution
  • License suspension or mandatory use of an Ignition Interlock Device for up to three years

DUI crimes that lead to the demise of someone else are punished differently. Their penalties may range from a strike on the defendant’s criminal history to life in prison.

Penalties for Commercial DUI (VC 23152d)

The commercial DUI law under VC 23152d is different from the ordinary and per se DUI laws. This statute makes it an offense to operate a commercial motor vehicle when you have a BAC of 0.04% or more.  Note that unlike the ordinary and per se DUI laws, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is strictly 0.04%. This means that a conviction of commercial DUI carries harsher penalties. A first commercial DUI offense with no third party injured is punishable by:

  • A maximum of six months in an Orange County jail
  • Informal probation for a period ranging between three and five years
  • A fine of between $390 and $1000
  • A penalty assessment fee ranging between $1500 and $2000
  • A court-approved DUI education program for three months
  • Driver’s license suspension for at least a year

If you are found guilty of commercial DUI for the second time, your commercial driver’s license will be suspended for life. If you get arrested for commercial DUI for the second time, you should contact a skilled DUI defense attorney immediately. Note that the DMV and court processes for commercial DUI are similar to those of a non-commercial DUI, but with extended periods of suspension.

Consequences of Vehicular Manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence

Penal Code (PC) 191.5 defines the crime of vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence. This offense happens when a driver unlawfully kills another person without malice aforethought while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be charged in either of the two ways; ordinary vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence or gross vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence.

Ordinary vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence is a wobbler offense. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties will be summary probation, a maximum fine of $1000 and up to a year in jail.  And if it is a felony, the penalties include formal probation, a maximum fine of $10,000, one-year license suspension, and up to four years in state prison.

A gross vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence offense is always a felony. It carries severe penalties compared to ordinary vehicular manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence. A conviction of this offense may lead to a maximum prison sentence of ten years and a driver’s license suspension for three years.

The Punishments for Military DUI

Military DUI occurs when a member of the military who is on active duty gets arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated with either drugs or alcohol. When this happens, the military member may face both punitive military actions and civilian criminal charges for the same crime.

  • Military Drunk-Driving on Base

In case the member of the military gets arrested by military police for DUI while on base, they will be prosecuted under the Uniform Military Protective Order Justice (Article 111). Under this statute, a member of the military who is on active duty may face a court-martial and administrative action for DUI while on the military installation. Keep in mind that under these circumstances, you won’t face civilian criminal prosecution. However, you may still incur California administrative penalties that are imposed by the DMV.

  • Military Drunk-Driving off Base

In case a member of the military is arrested for drunk-driving by civilian law enforcement officers, they will be prosecuted under California VC 23152a or VC 23152b. VC 23152 prohibits a person from driving while he/she is under the influence of alcohol. VC 23152b, on the other hand, forbids a person to operate a motor vehicle when his/her BAC is .08% or higher. It is crucial to remember that under these circumstances, it is likely that you will only be prosecuted for your DUI offense as a non-military member in a criminal court. But, your commander might also take action against you.

  • Military punishments

It’s crucial to remember that if you’re a military member who is active on duty, you will face military penalties for driving while intoxicated. Immediately your superiors find out about your arrest, they will look into the particulars of your case. Then make their determination on the punishment you should face. Note that you can still challenge the charges against you in a military court. You need to have an expert military drunk-driving defense attorney by your side when you do. An attorney who is conversant with military procedures may be able to mitigate your case and prevent military judicial consequences.

Administrative Actions

Administrative measures result in non-judicial punishments. They include:

  • Mandatory treatment for substance abuse- you might be ordered to enroll in an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program for counseling.
  • Assignment of extra duty- Your commander may require you to work for longer hours in the week or work throughout the weekend. Alternatively, you may be assigned remedial chores to do as a sanction.
  • You might be issued with a letter of reprimand- this letter will include the details about your crime as well as the penalties you faced. The letter may reflect on your record of military operations. This means it may lower your chances of having a contract renewal or being promoted.
  • On base restrictions- your privilege to go on leave may be revoked. You may also be restricted within the barracks during the weekends

Court-martial actions

Here, you will be subjected to judicial punishments. The consequences may include:

  • Losing your rank
  • You may face military separation proceedings
  • Pay grade reduction
  • Pay forfeiture
  • You may be sentenced to the brigs

Consequences for Non-Immigrant Visa DUI

If you are not a U.S citizen and are caught driving while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, you may face the standard California DUI penalties.  You may also be subjected to immigration-related repercussions. Immigration rule changes subject non-immigrant DUI offenders to severe repercussions if convicted. Immigration-related consequences for non-immigrant DUI offenders include deportation and visa revocation or inadmissibility.

  • Deportation /removal

Non-immigrants that are caught drunk or drugged driving may undergo immigration proceedings whose results may be deportation. Removal may occur regardless of whether you’re guilty of drunk-driving or not. The moment the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) knows about your being arrested, it issues an immigration hold against you.

Among other duties of the ICE, it dedicates a significant portion of its resources on hunting persons with a criminal record. Thus, it’s critical to contest any drunk-driving charges against you so you can keep a clean criminal history if possible. Doing this minimizes deportation chances.

If you are a non-immigrant and have been charged with drunk or drugged driving, you should seek legal help immediately. Both an immigration lawyer and a DUI defense attorney can help you fight through your charges.

  • Visa revocation/inadmissibility

 A non-immigrant who is convicted of drunk or drugged-driving may have his/her visa automatically revoked. The U.S Department of State (DOS) is the body that revokes visas. Visa revocation leads to inadmissibility, meaning you cannot enter the U.S until you have your issue sorted. Like deportation, you do not need to be guilty to face visa revocation. The DOS has guidelines on how this is implemented.

If your visa is revoked, you have to go to the U.S consulate in your home country to re-establish your visa validity. And if you try to go to the U.S on a revoked visa, you will be prevented before boarding a plane. Or, if you manage to enter a plane, you will be prevented from entering the United States after landing.

  • Deportation for DUIs with Aggravating Factors

Usually, a conviction of DUI can’t cause the removal of non-immigrants or immigrants from the U.S. This is because DUI is not a crime of violence. Thus, it is not categorized as one of the aggravated felonies. Aggravated felonies refer to offenses that could result in removal.

However, DUIs that are surrounded by aggravating circumstances may cause deportation of both non-immigrants and immigrants. It may also be difficult for immigrants and non-immigrants that are found guilty of aggravated drunk-driving to adjust their immigration status. Also, they may be rendered inadmissible to the United States. Aggravating circumstances that may result in inadmissibility and deportation include:

  • Multiple DUIs
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • DUI on a revoked/suspended license
  • Drunk-driving with a child passenger in the car

Documented and undocumented aliens facing DUI charges should seek expert legal counsel as soon as they are arrested. A DUI and immigration attorney who understands both the immigration law and DUI defense may be able to help. Each case is unique and, therefore, should be handled distinctly.

Note that California DUIs are priorable crimes. This means that the consequences get more severe with every successive conviction within ten years. Also, you can be subjected to civil charges in case the drunk-driving offense led to property damage, injury, or death.

Alternative Sentences for DUI

Alternative DUI sentences are punishments that one can face instead of a jail or prison sentence after a conviction of DUI. They include:

  • House arrest or electronic monitoring
  • Community service
  • Detention in a city or private jail
  • You may be given residence in an environment with sober-living people
  • Cal-Trans roadside work

Also, apart from DMV and court penalties, a conviction of DUI comes with other consequences. These are:

  • The cost of auto insurance goes up and triggers SR22 requirements
  • Your DUI conviction could negatively affect your professional license, certifications, and insurance
  • If you are applying for a job, you may be asked about your past convictions. Also, background checks will reveal your convictions unless they have been expunged
  • DUI convictions can negatively impact university admission decisions as well as qualification for financial support
  • Usually, you have to sign a Watson Advisement, which will be used against you in case of any future drunk-driving accidents
  • Non-immigrants have to explain drunk-driving arrest details upon being asked by the DHS when applying to change their status, for green cards, or visas.

Attorneys who do not specialize in defending DUI cases may not know that there are alternative sentences for DUI. If they know, then they may be unable to employ effective ways to convince judges and prosecutors to accept to impose them. It is for this reason that you must hire precisely a drunk-driving defense lawyer to handle your DUI case. He/she may help you lower your penalties.

Conditions of DUI Probation

When the court imposes a drunk-driving punishment that consists of probation, the terms listed below are included:

  • You must not commit any further offenses
  • You must not operate an automobile with any detectable alcohol amount in the bloodstream
  • You must not decline to undergo chemical testing of your breath, blood, or urine if you are arrested for another DUI offense

Depending on what circumstances surrounding your case, you may also be required to adhere to these conditions:

  • Attend the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings
  • Participate in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Program
  • Victim, restitution in case you caused a crash when DUI

Violation of any of the probation terms may lead to your probation sentence being canceled and the reinstatement of the original DUI sentence.

Aggravating Factors that Could Increase Your Drunk-Driving Sentence

There are several circumstances and facts that, if at play, when you’re arrested for DUI, will elevate your DUI prison or jail sentence.  The aggravating factors will enhance your DUI punishment irrespective of whether you are facing a first, second, third, fourth, or subsequent drunk-driving conviction.  Common aggravating circumstances are:

  • Refusing to undergo chemical testing
  • Causing a crash because of your DUI
  • Having a BAC of .15%or more
  • DUI at excessive driving/reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger in your car, which may also result in additional charges child endangerment under PC 273a
  • Underage DUI

The form of increased punishment you get for any of the aggravating factors above depends on two factors:

  • The specific circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest
  • Your criminal record (the emphasis is on your past drunk-driving history)

Find a Experienced Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

Facing DUI charges can be stressful. It will mean running up and down from the courts and back to try and prove your innocence. Even so, you shouldn’t sit and wait to face the possible penalties we have discussed above, especially if an in-depth investigation may reveal that you are innocent. You can reach out to expert attorneys from Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer who may help you successfully challenge the charges against you.  Consulting with a skilled lawyer immediately after you get arrested is crucial. This is because it allows the lawyer ample time to assess your case and collect proof that can challenge the prosecutor’s case.  Call us at 714-820-9592, and we will get started on your case right away.