California takes driving under the influence of alcohol seriously. Even for a first offense, the penalties may be significant. Many people assume that fighting a DUI charge is hopeless and simply plead guilty. However, the penalties are usually harsher once you have a prior DUI on your criminal record. There may be social consequences as well as legal consequences to consider. If you are facing a potential drunk driving charge, Sacramento DUI lawyer Travis G. Black and the staff at Travis G. Black & Associates may be able to help you.Penalties in DUI Cases
The severity of the penalties that you may face if you are convicted of DUI depends on whether someone is hurt because of the DUI and whether you have prior drunk driving offenses on your criminal record. With every DUI conviction within a 10-year "lookback period," including any "wet reckless" convictions or out-of-state convictions that are equivalent to a California DUI, the penalties get harsher.
Most first offenses that do not involve injuries are prosecuted as misdemeanors. The penalties for a first conviction include up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, up to 10 months of a driver's license suspension, and alcohol education requirements.
You may be charged with a felony DUI if the incident resulted in an injury or death, if you have at least three prior DUI convictions, or you have a prior felony DUI. If you have multiple prior convictions, the penalties that you face for a felony DUI may be especially harsh. They may vary based on how high your blood alcohol content was and whether there were aggravating factors. You may be punished with years in prison, a years-long revocation of your driving privileges, thousands of dollars in fines, a requirement that you install an Interlock Ignition Device, and Habitual Traffic Offender status. Prison is more likely if the injuries were devastating or fatal. Your probation will likely be strictly monitored.
California has an implied consent law, which means that if you refuse to take a chemical test, you will be fined, and your license will be automatically suspended for a year. The suspension lasts longer for repeat refusals.
In addition to legal consequences, a criminal record that includes drunk driving convictions may lead to embarrassment and harm to your reputation. In particular, felony convictions may lead to real challenges in obtaining housing as well as employment and professional licenses.
In DUI cases not involving serious injuries or death, you may be able to get probation for a first offense. Moreover, there may be alternative sentencing options to county jail or prison. For example, you may be eligible to perform community service, roadside work, house arrest, or residence in a sober-living environment. It is important to consult an attorney who understands all of the options and has a good reputation with judges and prosecutors so that you may be considered for alternative sentencing.Consult an Aggressive DUI Lawyer in Sacramento or Beyond
Our principal, Travis G. Black, is a former police officer who can bring his knowledge and insights about law enforcement to bear on your drunk driving case. It is crucial to consult a knowledgeable Sacramento DUI attorney about potential penalties and defenses if you have been arrested. Based in Folsom, we provide capable legal counsel and work hard to protect your rights. Contact us online or call us at 916-962-2896 for a free consultation with a drunk driving attorney.