What Happens On A 4th DUI In California?

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Getting a 4th DUI in California can have major impacts on your life. Our 4th DUI Law guide provides information on penalties and changes to your license.

What Happens on a Fourth DUI in California?

When someone obtains a fourth DUI during a 10-year period the penalties can be extremely harsh. Even if there are no aggravating circumstances such as injury or excessive speeds, the courts may be inclined to pursue a felony charge, rather than the less severe misdemeanor. This is because repeat offenses may demonstrate a total disregard for the safety of others.

Since the potential of a felony conviction is much higher on a fourth DUI case, it is extremely important to obtain proper legal counsel during this process. A skilled Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer will provide you with the best chance of avoiding a felony conviction and keeping jail time to a minimum.

What is considered a DUI in California?

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs can create a very dangerous scenario for the person behind the wheel and everyone else on the road. The presence of certain drugs in a person’s system at all may warrant an automatic DUI, however, there are certain levels of alcohol (as determined by Blood Alcohol Concentration) that may be permitted by a driver. Typically, a driver over the age of 21 years of age is within the legal limit if their BAC registers less than 0.08%

In the case of a driver who is already in a probationary period for a previous DUI, there may likely be a zero-tolerance rule in place (as a part of the conditions outlined by the court.) If this is in place, then a Blood Alcohol Concentration reading of 0.01% or higher is enough to put another DUI on that person’s record. Drivers under the age of 21 are also subject to this very strict rule.

While a BAC reading is one of the most common and concrete ways to determine a DUI, there are other methods of evaluating someone’s ability to operate a vehicle. During a field sobriety test an officer will review the physical coordination of the driver in question and make a determination if they are fit to drive a vehicle and if there are signs that a person might be under the influence of some sort of drug. It is up to the arresting officer to decide whether a DUI will be handed out based on what they observe of the person.

Penalties for a Violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23550 VC

The criminal penalties for a fourth DUI are much more severe than they are for prior recorded cases someone may obtain. And for those that happen within a 10-year period of the others, this can mean additional punishments as accumulated DUI offenses are priorable, meaning that they can be factored into the sentencing that is handed down on the current offense. Someone facing a fourth DUI on their record may be subject to the following criminal penalties in Los Angeles Country:

  • A probation period of 5 years
  • Participation in community service
  • Significant fines of up to $3500
  • Legally being required to install and use an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) for 2 years
  • Attendance at a mandatory DUI-related course for up to 30 months.
  • 180 days in county jail or possibly 2 to 3 years of time served in the state prison system

Any of these punishments may be increased if the DUI incident involves aggravating circumstances such as high speeds, an excessive BAC, an accident involving injury or death, and having children as passengers in the car while the fourth DUI has occurred.

In addition to these criminal punishments, the privilege a person has to drive will be revoked for four years. During this time the person may also be eligible for ‘Habitual Traffic Offender’ status which will be on their record for three years.

Is a Fourth DUI in California a Felony?

It depends, but most likely the prosecution will try to make a fourth DUI into a felony case. So, yes, a fourth DUI may be a felony in California. But it is not a forgone conclusion. The reason this becomes so important is because while a misdemeanor may involve time in the county jail, conviction of a felony DUI can lead to between 2-3 years in a state prison. It is also a much more serious conviction to have on one’s criminal record.

A well-versed Los Angeles DUI lawyer will mount a solid defense for you so that you can avoid a felony DUI conviction at all costs. Taking immediate steps to enter into an alcohol and drug treatment program may help avoid the harsher charge.

Top DUI Defenses for a 4th DUI in California

A fourth DUI offense poses a great challenge, but with the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer, an appropriate defense may help lessen the punishments or get the case thrown out altogether. Some of the defenses that may be appropriate to your case might be:

  • Showing that there wasn’t enough probable cause to initiate the traffic stop in the first place
  • Examining the steps that the officer took to determine a driver’s impairment and whether some of the assumptions that were made could be explained by other circumstances
  • A faulty Blood Alcohol Concentration reading due to human or mechanical error when using the device
  • The officer not following all of the arrest procedures properly If any of these arguments are shown to be true, it is possible to have certain evidence that was used to build a case thrown out.

Call Today for a Risk Free Consultation for a 4th DUI Charge

A fourth DUI case needs to be handled immediately and handled well. With the possibility of a felony conviction on the table, it is vital that the proper counsel is brought on to the case to give the defendant the best chance at beating the charges. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen have extensive experience in all types of DUI cases and can help you achieve the best outcome possible for your case.

To get the right advice for your fourth DUI, call us at 1 (310) 557-1700 and we can connect you with our team of DUI lawyers today.

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