Types of DUI Charges and Penalties

California law mandates that many of the penalties for a DUI are the same across the board. However, an experienced Santa Rosa DUI attorney who is familiar with the local court system can often negotiate a more favorable outcome for your case.

First Time DUI

A first time DUI conviction carries a two-day minimum jail sentence, and a six month maximum.  If you were booked into jail at the time of your arrest, you will have credit for at least one of those two days and you may not have to serve any more time at all. Even if there is a day left for you to serve, or if you get sentenced to more time, you can often do so through an alternate program such as work release or electronic home confinement. With work release, you sign up to do an eight-hour day of work through the probation department for each day of jail that you owe, but you get to go home at night. With electronic home confinement, you are monitored with an ankle bracelet to make sure you remain home unless you are at work. The typical length of probation for a first time DUI is three years. The probation is “informal,” meaning you do not have to check in with a probation officer, you simply may not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system or break any other laws. Sometimes, depending on the severity of your case, you may be ordered to abstain from alcohol completely for the probationary period. You will likely be fined approximately $2,500, which you can satisfy through monthly payments.

If your blood alcohol level is .19 or below, you will be ordered to take the First Offender DUI program, which is three months.  If it is .20 or above, you will be ordered to take the Extended First Offender program, which is nine months long. Your driver’s license will be suspended by the DMV as of the date of your conviction for a period of six months. However, after the first 30 days of that suspension, if you are enrolled in your DUI class and are over 21 years old you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license for the remainder of the six month suspension.  The restricted license allows you to drive to and from, or for the purposes of, your employment. Once you complete the DUI class and the suspension time has passed, you can apply to have your license reinstated. A DUI is a two-point violation on your DMV record.

Second DUI Within 10 years

If you are charged with a DUI and you have a prior DUI conviction (or wet reckless) within the last 10 years, the penalties for the second DUI increase. The mandatory minimum jail sentence for a second DUI is 10 days, and the maximum is one year. However, in Sonoma County, the prosecution will only typically offer a “minimum” of 30 days. This varies from county to county and also depends on the circumstances of your particular case. Like with a first DUI, you may be able to serve any jail time through an alternative program such as work release or electronic home confinement. The typical probation period is three or four years, and usually comes with an order that you abstain from alcohol altogether. There will be another $2,500 fine, and your license will be suspended for a period of one year. After 90 days, you may be able to apply for a restricted license, but you may have to install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) to be granted this privilege. You will have to attend the Multiple Offender Drinking Driver Program, which is 18 months long. Circumstances of your individual case dictate what your particular penalties may entail, so don’t hesitate to consult with one of our experienced DUI attorneys for the most accurate information.

Third DUI Within 10 Years

If you are charged with a DUI and you have a two prior DUI convictions (or wet reckless) within the last 10 years, the penalties for the third DUI increase substantially. The mandatory minimum jail sentence for a third DUI is 120 days, and the maximum is one year. Typical resolutions on third DUI cases vary from county to county and also depend on the circumstances of your particular case. Like with a first and second DUI, you may be able to serve any jail time through an alternative program such as work release or electronic home confinement. However, this becomes less likely with a third offense. The typical probation period is three to five years, comes with an order that you abstain from alcohol altogether, and you may be ordered to do an alcohol treatment program. Sometimes, participating in a residential treatment program can serve as an alternative to a lengthy jail sentence; this is something a good Santa Rosa DUI attorney can advocate for if your case is appropriate. The fine will be approximately $2,500, and your license will be suspended for up to three years. You will likely have to install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) on any vehicle you own or operate. You will have to attend the Multiple Offender Drinking Driver Program, which is 18 months long, and the DMV will designate you as a habitual traffic offender. Circumstances of your individual case dictate what your particular penalties may entail, so don’t hesitate to consult with one of our experienced DUI attorneys for the most accurate information.

Wet Reckless

A “wet reckless” is a reduced charge from a first time DUI, under Vehicle Code section 23103.5: alcohol related reckless driving. This charge is not usually filed on the criminal complaint, but it is often offered in plea-bargaining as a less serious way to resolve your DUI case. Whether you will be offered a wet reckless depends entirely on the circumstances of your individual case and there is no guarantee that you will receive that offer. Typcially, resolving your case for a “wet reckless” is a possibility for you if you had a low blood alcohol level (close to the .08% limit), if you have no criminal history, if you weren’t driving poorly, or if there are other unique circumstances that warrant a reduction of the charge. The fine for a wet reckless is usually around $900, and the probation period is usually only 24 months. There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence on a wet reckless, and the DUI school could also be only six weeks instead of three months. However, a wet reckless, is still a serious consequence in that it is treated like a first DUI if you end up being charged with a DUI again within 10 years. It is also two points on your driving record, just like a regular DUI.

Felony DUI

If you are charged with a DUI and you have three or more prior DUI or wet reckless convictions in the last 10 years, you will be charged with a felony DUI. Conviction of a felony DUI means the judge could send you to prison, however you may be given a chance on probation. If you are given this chance, you will likely have to serve at least six months in the county jail along with participating in some form of alcohol treatment. Fines, DUI school, and license suspensions will also apply depending on the circumstances of your particular case.  

DUI Causing Injury

DUIs involving a crash and subsequent injury to another person are charged under California Vehicle Code sections 23153(a) and 23153(b). These charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies, regardless of whether it is a first time DUI or a repeat offense. You could face anything from 90 days in the county jail on a misdemeanor, to prison time on a felony. Your outcome will depend on the circumstances of your individual case.

If you are arrested or cited for any type of DUI in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Lake County, Marin County, or anywhere in the North Bay, call Wilber Law Offices now at (707) 955-5298 for your free consultation. You want an experienced Santa Rosa DUI lawyer to get started on your defense today.