What Happens On A Second DUI In California?

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Getting a second DUI in California can have major impacts on your life. Our 2nd DUI Law guide provides information on penalties and changes to your license.

What Happens on a Second DUI in California?

As you might imagine, the penalties for obtaining a second DUI in the state of California tend to be harsher. This is because, as a priorable offense, each instance of a DUI will escalate the punishment further compared to previous cases. Calling a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer when the second DUI is established is essential.

While the facts of the case will ultimately determine the penalties that are handed down, a knowledgeable lawyer will provide a better chance of minimizing them as much as possible.

What Constitutes a DUI in California?

Someone who already has a DUI on their record is expected to have clear knowledge of what the expectations for operating a vehicle are and the dangers of driving while under the influence. The use of drugs and alcohol while driving is a great danger to oneself and the public.

When someone is pulled over by the police they will be observed for erratic behaviors and other tell-tale signs that could indicate intoxication. The officer may note enough physical evidence through a field sobriety test to immediately charge the driver with a DUI.

In many cases a person will be asked to submit to an on-site breath test. This usually will provide a more concrete piece of evidence as the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for drivers must not reach or exceed 0.08%. In the case drivers under 21 years of age, the limit is much a much more stringent 0.01% threshold. Any reading on or over that amount will result in a DUI. For professional drivers a BAC of 0.04% is the limit.

A BAC that is at or above the limits outlined above will necessitate an automatic DUI, however the officers can use their own discretion in deciding what constitutes a DUI.

What are the penalties for a second time DUI in California?

As mentioned before, similar methods of punishment are used in both the first and second DUI offense, but the latter typically will be for a longer duration and come with a higher fine. If the person’s previous DUI occurred within the previous 10 years this will have a direct impact on the sentencing to follow from a second DUI. Each county will have their own slight differences in penalties. In Los Angeles County the range of penalties are as follows for a second DUI:

  • An informal or summary probation period of 5 years, in which the person does not need to check in with a probation officer but instead appears in court only as needed
  • Suspension of the person’s driver’s license for up to 2 years without the option of requesting a restricted license
  • Paying a fine of $2000
  • 18-month mandatory drug and alcohol courses
  • Installation of an IID or ignition interlock device which measures your blood alcohol level prior to operating a vehicle
  • A minimum of 96 hours of jail time (where it was previously an optional punishment on the first offense)
  • Community service

If the second DUI occurs during the probation period of the first DUI, this will have a significant impact on the penalties that are handed down by the court. This might include extended jail time on top of what would have been the original sentence for a non-probationary period second DUI. A second DUI is very serious, and you’ll want a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Attorney by your side to help you through the court process.

Depending on the circumstances of the DUI, how long ago the first one occurred, and whether there is a substance abuse problem playing a role in the offense, judges have a lot of leeway to hand down penalties. Although there are mandatory sentences associated with a second DUI (such as jail time) the courts do balance the need to punish dangerous behavior with the need to help the defendant get the support they need to overcome a possible addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Top Defenses Used in a Second Time DUI Case

The accumulation of a second DUI on a person’s record is not a pattern the courts like to see. Having an established Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer help defend you is the smart choice if you find yourself in this situation. They will know the best ways to handle your case and minimize the penalties you will be subject to.

Some of the more common defenses used in DUI cases include:

The Arresting Officer Mistaking Confusing Physical Signs as Intoxication

Some DUI arrests are made at the discretion of the officer on the scene. A field sobriety test, in which the physical capabilities and coordination of the driver are tested, may give an indication of whether a driver has all of their faculties. But it has been shown that depending on the testing environment and the emotional state of the person during the test it is possible that someone could fail the test for reasons other than actually being intoxicated.

Inaccurate BAC Reading

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) readings seem extremely straightforward but there are ways in which this evidence could be inaccurate. Improper use of the device, faulty equipment, and even pre-existing conditions with the person being tested can lead to a higher BAC than is accurate.

Improper Arrest Procedures

If any part of the DUI arrest is conducted outside the scope of required procedures, it may be possible for a good lawyer to argue and have that evidence disallowed from the court hearing.

Arrange for a Free Consultation With Our Experienced DUI Attorneys

A second DUI should not be taken lightly. Finding an experienced lawyer to provide a strong defense in your case will be important to ensuring you do not receive the maximum penalties. Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys who have worked with numerous DUI cases and helped them get the best outcomes for their cases.

For immediate help on your DUI matter, and to schedule a consultation with our team, call us at 1 (310) 557-1700 today.

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