Fourth DUI Offense in California
Repeat DUI offenders are believed to be likely of causing a serious accident in the future. Statistically, the more DUI offenses you have, the more likely you are to get arrested for DUI again in the future. In order to discourage repeat offenders, California lawmakers make sure that police check DUI suspects for any prior convictions.
When a person is arrested for suspicion of DUI in California, police will check their criminal record. California law states that only the past ten years of a person's driving record can be viewed by police who are looking for prior DUI convictions. If police see that the suspect has previously been convicted of any of the following DUI or a DUI related offense in that ten year period, they will face steeper charges:
- 23152 VC – Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- 23153 VC – Driving under the influence and causing injury or death
- 23103.5 VC – Reckless driving involving alcohol aka “wet reckless”
- A DUI conviction in that occurred in another state
When a suspect has three or more prior DUI convictions, they will face felony charges. After three DUI convictions in ten years, California lawmakers believe that a driver must face serious consequences for any subsequent convictions. According to the DMV's annual report, 1.5% of all California DUI convictions in 2010 were for repeat offenders with three or more prior convictions. While this percentage may seem low, it is equal to about 2,207 people and is proof that this type of conviction does occur.
4th California DUI Penalties
There are a number of penalties that a person convicted of a fourth DUI will face. For each prior DUI conviction a person has had in the past ten years, the guidelines for sentencing increase. The steepest sentences are saved for offenders with three or more prior convictions as these charges are ruled as felonies. Judges will not hesitate to impose the maximum penalties on repeat offenders as many feel that they have not learned their lesson from past offenses. Penalties include:
- A jail sentence of at least 16 months but not more than 4 years
- A fine of at least $390 but not more than $1,000
- Four years of driver's license revocation
- Three years of habitual offender status
These guidelines also apply to repeat offenders with 4, 5, 6 or more prior DUI convictions. California law does not lay out special sentencing for offenders with more than four convictions. A conviction can lead to other penalties in as well. For example, in 2010 58.2% of fourth time DUI offenders in California received probation, 37.7% were required to complete an 18 month DUI education program and 1.8% were required to complete a 30 month DUI education program.
Ignition Interlock Device
Another common penalty for repeat DUI offenders in California is the installation of an ignition interlock device or IID. An IID is a small device that is installed into an offender's vehicle that requires a breath sample be given before driving. If there is alcohol present in the sample, the device will not allow the engine to start. These devices can be mandatory as a condition of license reinstatement or voluntary as a way for offenders to get their license returned sooner. In California, 14% of DUI offenders with three or more prior DUI convictions were sentenced to the installation of these devices.
Felony DUI in California
In California, any DUI offense where the suspect has three or more prior DUI related convictions on their record in the past ten years will be charged as a felony. Once a person is convicted of felony DUI, all future DUI arrests will also be charged as felonies regardless of how minor. Felony charges are the most serious charges a person can face. In addition to the penalties, an offender will have to live with the stigma of convicted felon for their entire lives. Many schools and jobs will not accept an application for this reason alone.
All fourth DUI arrests are charged as felonies, this is not something that a judge decides or that can be argued against. The only qualifications that need to be proven for a felony DUI charge are the following:
- The suspect is accused of driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or while impaired by alcohol
- The suspect has been convicted three or more times in the ten years prior to their arrest of a DUI or DUI related offense
California Fourth DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for DUI and have three or more prior convictions, it is vital that you call an attorney right away. A felony conviction is very serious and should be avoided at all costs. This means that you will want to make sure that you have the best defense team around. The legal professionals at our firm will fight hard for you.