What are the Penalties for a Second DUI in California?
Driving under the influence can happen to anyone. After a night out with friends or a stressful day, you make the mistake of getting behind the wheel when you shouldn’t have. The next thing you know, those flashing red and blue lights are behind you, and you’re being pulled over.
For many, a first DUI is a wake-up call. But some will make the same mistake again. In California, a second DUI conviction brings much harsher punishments. At our firm, we often counsel first-time offenders who vow they will learn from the experience. But for those who do re-offend, the penalties can be severe.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect if convicted of a second DUI in California. Having this knowledge ahead of time can help you make better choices in the future.
Facing Serious Fines and Fees
Unlike some other states, California does not charge a second DUI as a felony unless there are aggravating circumstances. But you will still face stiff fines and fees if convicted.
For a basic misdemeanor DUI, the fine is between $390-$1,000. But with penalty assessments, you can expect to pay around $1,800 total. Compared to a first-offense fine of $390-$1000 plus about $500 in penalties, this is quite an increase.
You will also have to pay for DUI classes, license reissue fees and any towing or impound fees. And don’t forget about the massive increase in your auto insurance premiums. Over a period of several years, a second DUI can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.
Paying More for Car Insurance for Years
Many drivers don’t realize that a DUI conviction will nearly double your car insurance costs. Rates can be 100-200% higher for the next 5 years after a DUI. And the increase is worse after a second offense. Now your premiums may be 3-5 times higher.
For example, a 40-year old driver was paying $125 per month for full coverage before his DUI. After the conviction, the same policy skyrocketed to $320 per month. And with a second offense, his insurer said the lowest rate they could offer was $450 per month!
Facing a Minimum of 96 Hours in Jail
One of the most serious penalties for a second misdemeanor DUI in California is mandatory jail time. Even if you get the minimum 96-hour sentence, spending days in county jail is a life-changing experience.
While the minimum mandatory jail time for a second misdemeanor DUI in California is 96 hours, the actual sentence can end up being much longer based on aggravating factors. Prosecutors can seek up to 1 year in jail if there are extenuating circumstances, like an extremely high BAC, an injury accident, or having kids in the car at the time. However, there’s no getting around that 4-day minimum if convicted.
Obviously, anyone facing a 2nd DUI needs an experienced DUI attorney to help mitigate the damages and avoid jail if possible. Public defenders are often overwhelmed and may not be able to give your case the attention it requires.
Alternatives to Jail Time for Second DUI Offenders
Although rare, there are some alternatives to jail time that your criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate:
- Work Release – Allows you to work at your job during the day but spend nights and weekends in jail. You must pay for the monitoring equipment.
- Home Arrest – Wear an ankle monitor at home instead of jail. Allows work privileges if approved by the court.
- Residential Treatment – For those with alcohol/drug abuse issues, completing a licensed rehab program may satisfy part of your sentence.
These alternatives to jail are not offered to all second-time DUI offenders. Factors like your BAC, if you refused to test, if there was an accident, and your overall criminal history will be considered. Those with a high BAC (ex. 0.15% or above) will have a harder time qualifying.
Suspended License for Second DUI Conviction
After a prior DUI conviction, a second offense brings a mandatory 1-year license suspension. This means no driving at all for a year. For those who depend on their vehicles to make a living, this can be devastating.
California does allow you to obtain a restricted license that only allows driving to/from work and DUI programs after a 2nd offense. But the process to get a restricted license and interlock device installed takes time. And it involves quite a bit of bureaucratic red tape. This is another area where an attorney can help guide you through the process efficiently.
Collateral Consequences of a Second DUI Charge
Beyond the immediate fines and jail sentences, a second DUI causes long-term damage for years after your sentence is complete:
- Employment Issues – Many employers do background checks, and a DUI conviction on your record may cost you a job or promotion.
- Probation – Expect 3-5 years of supervised probation and conditions like DUI classes, AA meetings, and ongoing alcohol/drug testing.
- Immigration Consequences – Those applying for citizenship or green cards can be denied due to multiple DUI convictions. Speak to an experienced immigration attorney.
- Future DUIs – Harsher penalties for a 3rd, 4th and any subsequent DUI convictions.
Don’t Become a Statistic — Contact Kolacia Law Today
Over 1.5 million DUIs are issued in the U.S. each year. Unfortunately, many first-time offenders will re-offend. We never want to see our clients become repeat offender statistics. A DUI conviction is a mistake anyone can make at some point in life. The key is learning from the experience.
If you have been charged with a second DUI, connecting with an attorney immediately is critical. Do not wait, and hope things will work out. The penalties are simply too great.
An attorney can review the details of your case and build the strongest defense to avoid jail time and reduce fines and fees. Every DUI case has weaknesses, but you need an aggressive lawyer fighting for you.
At Kolacia Law, we exclusively handle DUI and criminal cases. Over the past decade, we have achieved successful outcomes for hundreds of clients facing a second DUI charge. While every case is different, you can trust our team to handle your case professionally.
We know this is an extremely stressful situation. Our goal is always to help clients move forward while incurring the least penalties possible. Don’t face this alone. Contact us today to schedule a case review. Our experienced legal team is standing by to help you.