What Happens if You Get a Fourth DUI in California?

fourth dui california

Think the consequences for a first or second DUI seem harsh? Getting hit with a 4th DUI charge in California brings exponentially higher stakes. We’re talking potential felony charges, years behind bars, and fines reaching into the thousands.

The financial costs alone from a 4th DUI can destroy lives. And that doesn’t even touch the personal shame or stigma of joining an elite few who manage to rack up this many drunk driving offenses.

Yet despite the long odds, some path forward remains possible if you or a loved one now faces a 4th offense. This blog covers exactly what a California court can and will throw at you, the chances of minimizing damages, and how you can fight to ensure the best possible outcome.

California Fourth DUI Charges and Penalties

In California, a 4th DUI within 10 years is a “wobbler” charge, meaning a prosecutor can choose to charge it as either a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties below cover both possibilities.

You Face Substantial Jail or Prison Time

If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential sentence if convicted is 180 days to 1 year in county jail. As a felony, up to 3 years in California state prison is possible. Any injuries/fatalities related to the DUI can further enhance prison time.

Count on a 5-Year License Suspension for your 4th DUI in California

A 4th DUI triggers an automatic 5-year license suspension per California Vehicle Code Section 23550. For many clients, this loss of driving privileges severely impacts their lives and livelihoods.

You Will Need an Ignition Interlock Device

California requires an ignition interlock device (IID) to be installed on your vehicle before you can restore your license after a 4th DUI suspension. IIDs analyze a driver’s breath and disable the vehicle if alcohol is detected.

Enrollment in an 18-30 month California DUI Program May be Ordered.

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.20% or above, the court will likely order you to complete an 18-30 month DUI treatment program. This is mandatory for license reinstatement.
These are just the baseline penalties. We help equip clients to face their charges by laying out exactly what a 4th DUI conviction entails. However, additional circumstances can greatly enhance consequences.

Aggravating Factors Add Harsher Penalties for 4th DUI in CA

Prosecutors and judges tend to pursue enhanced penalties with 4th DUI offenses. These include additional fines, license suspension, jail time, and more. We routinely contest enhanced penalties by thoroughly investigating our clients’ cases. Several key aggravators we refute include:

BAC of 0.20% or Higher

A BAC exceeding the 0.20% legal limit prompts enrollment in longer DUI programs of up to 30 months before re-licensing. We dispute questionable BAC results to avoid unfair treatment.

Accidents Causing Injury or Death

If the DUI incident resulted in injuries or death, you face 5 years to 15 years to life in prison per California Penal Code Section 191.5(d). By casting doubt on the prosecution’s evidence, we have helped clients avoid devastating convictions.

Speeding Over 100 MPH

Grossly exceeding posted speed limits while DUI can trigger additional county jail time and hefty fines under California Vehicle Code Section 23582. We thoroughly vet traffic data to contest enhancers.

While these penalties seem bleak, most 4th DUI cases have hope, even if the charges initially appear airtight.

Applying for a Restricted License is Critical

One priority we have is assisting clients with obtaining restricted driving privileges during their suspension. Per California Vehicle Code Section 13352, it is possible to get a restricted license in as little as 1 year with the installation of an IID.

Navigating this application process is complex, but preserving driving abilities makes a huge difference in clients’ lives and futures. We guide clients each step as they work toward relicensing. Completing a court-ordered DUI program is also essential to license reinstatement following a 4th DUI conviction.

Long DUI Programs Build Accountability

The length of DUI programs depends on your charges, criminal record, and BAC. Misdemeanor DUI programs range from 3 to 18 months. With a felony DUI, programs extend to 30 months. We support clients in identifying programs fitting their circumstances, as well as securing referrals from respected counselors. By building accountability, these programs teach better decision-making skills for remaining sober behind the wheel.

The penalties for a 4th DUI conviction are certainly severe. However, working with a firm experienced in these cases is the key to overcoming fear to build an effective defense strategy.

Why An Experienced Rancho Cucamonga DUI Defense Firm is Vital

Here at Kolacia Law, clients can expect razor-sharp legal skills combined with compassion for their situation. Founding Attorney Daniel Kolacia possesses over 15 years of criminal defense experience, specifically in California courtrooms. He leads an extensive legal team in safeguarding clients’ futures.

Collectively, our attorneys offer clients their investigative skills to uncover holes in the prosecution’s evidence. We also leverage our relationships with key decision-makers to negotiate charge and penalty reductions whenever appropriate.

Most importantly, we empower clients to make informed choices while guiding them through unfamiliar legal processes.

If you or a loved one need advice on pending 4th DUI charges, contact Kolacia Law immediately for a case review.

Author Bio

Daniel Kolacia is the CEO and Managing Partner of Kolacia Law Firm, a Rancho Cucamonga, CA, criminal defense law firm. As a former prosecutor with more than 15 years of experience in criminal defense, he is knowledgeable about both sides of the courtroom, an advantage he uses to help defend his clients. He has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including white-collar crimes, misdemeanors, felonies, traffic cases, and other criminal charges.

Daniel received his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law and is a member of the California Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has worked on several high-profile cases featured on Dateline, CNBC, Los Angeles Times, and various local publications.

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