Articles Posted in Sentencing

CALIFORNIA NOT THE STRICTEST STATE ON DRIVERS UNDER THE INFLUENCE

WalletHub recently tallied up the states from the strictest to the most lenient on DUIs. You may be surprised to learn that according to WalletHub’s methodology, California was among the most lenient on DUIs. WalletHub identified 15 key metrics and assigned weighted points to each metric. The key metrics included minimum jail time for 1st and 2nd offenses, the point at which a DUI becomes an automatic felony, minimum fines, automatic license suspension duration, average insurance rate increase after a DUI, and other factors. California ranked among the more lenient states, coming in #34 out of 50 overall.

So where did California rank high? Well, as you might guess given that we have among the most expensive auto insurance rates in the nation, the only metric where California ranked #1 was the average insurance rate increase after a DUI. Indeed, the Auto Club of Southern California reports that a DUI will run a 1st time offender an average of $10,000 more in insurance costs over the ten year look-back period. Let’s just say that Uber or Lyft—even many rides over—will be cheaper than one DUI.

CONTINUOUS MONITORING OF ALCOHOL LEVELS—THE SCRAM DEVICE

Most people in California are aware that there is a device that may be ordered installed in person’s vehicle upon conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol. This device, called an Ignition Interlock device or IID is a mechanism that prevents a person from starting a vehicle without first blowing into the device, which registers any alcohol in the person’s system. If any alcohol is registered, the vehicle will not start. Some counties in California require that this device be installed— even for first time DUIs— but in most California counties, ordering the installation of a IID is left to judgment of the court.

Most people in California are not aware, however, of another alcohol monitoring device that may be ordered by the court in DUI cases. This device, called a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor or SCRAM device is an ankle bracket that continuously monitors for alcohol in the system through the skin. When the court orders installation of an IID, the defendant is only monitored for blood alcohol content when he or she wants to drive, when the SCRAM device is worn, the defendant is continuously monitored. DUI probation includes a zero-tolerance condition, that is, anyone on probation for a DUI cannot drive with even a small amount of alcohol in his or her system; the IID is just an extra level of enforcement. But if the court orders that the DUI probationer cannot drink at all, the court may order that the defendant wear a SCRAM.

DUI’S WITH PRIORS

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Orange County California, hiring an experienced DUI Defense Lawyer should be your first step toward getting the DUI arrest behind you. Although a conviction for first time DUI will result in penalties and fines, having an aggressive Orange County DUI defense attorney can help to mitigate the severity of the consequences.

It is true that a first-time DUI can cause extreme stress in someone’s life but, being arrested and charged with a second, third or fourth DUI is very serious and can have long lasting, and devastating effects on a person’s life for years to come. At the very least, consulting with an attorney who has experience in dealing with prior offense DUI’s, will give you an idea of what you may be facing and, whether or not the District Attorney has a slam-dunk case against you.

California law is pretty clear when it comes to the penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence. It may differ slightly from county to county but, overall, it is pretty straightforward.

The standard California DUI penalties are listed here for your reference:

First Conviction for DUI:

Most individuals arrested for driving under the influence are employed and have families that depend on them. If convicted, the consequences can be an enormous burden on one’s life and can jeopardize the job that provides the income for the family. For this reason, alternative sentencing is something that should be considered.

If you have been convicted of a DUI there are options for alternative sentencing. Some of these may include:

Community Service: Community service can sometimes be an option when negotiating with the district attorney in an effort to lower the charges.

Caltrans Work Program: The Caltrans Work Program is another option, generally set as a condition of probation. The Caltrans Work Program involves cleaning up litter along the roadways, clearing brush and cleaning graffiti where needed.

Sober Living Programs: As an alternative to jail, I will often suggest a sober living program rather than jail. These programs provide housing, alcohol and drug counseling, education and employment assistance.

House Arrest with Electronic Monitoring: House arrest or home confinement allows an individual to continue their regular activities, such as going to work, attending school and caring for children or other family members.

Private Jail or Work Furlough: There are a few private jails in that often allow work furlough privileges and are a nicer alternative to county jail. These facilities can be expensive but much less disruptive to one’s life.

The option for alternative sentencing depends largely on whether this is your first conviction for dui, second, third or more.

In California, we have what is called Sentence Enhancements. What this means is that if convicted of DUI, under certain circumstances the Court can impose a greater penalty. Those circumstances include: 1) Prior Convictions – If convicted of a DUI within the last ten years, jail time, DUI school and license suspension periods are increased. Two priors within ten years results in even further penalty increases and if you have three or more, you will be charged with; 2) High Blood Alcohol Level: A BAC level of .15 or higher, results in an enhanced sentence; 3) Test Refusal: There are two consequences to refusing to take a chemical test. The amount of jail time is increased and the DMV will impose their administrative suspension of your driving privilege; 4) Speeding and/or Reckless Driving: At the time of arrest, a sentence enhancement will be imposed for 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway.

A conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in that County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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In California, if you are charged with driving under the influence, whether it is alcohol or drug related, the prosecution could add to the charges what is known as sentence enhancements. These enhancements can substantially increase the severity of the punishments imposed by the Court. Here are some of the more common enhancements:

DUI Sentence Enhancements

1. Prior Convictions – If you have been convicted of a DUI within the last 10 years, the penalties are increased. So this means that the jail time imposed can be increased, the length of the DUI School, and your driver’s license suspension period are both increased. On a first conviction for DUI, a 3 month DUI school is standard, unless your blood alcohol level was very high, and in that case, the class will be six or nine months. Your driver’s license suspension period on a 1st DUI is six months.

2. High Blood Alcohol Content – An enhanced sentence can be imposed if your blood alcohol level is .15 or higher.

3. Test Refusal – The Court will increase the amount of jail time you are ordered to do if you refuse to submit to a chemical test. Further, the Department of Motor Vehicles will impose a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for refusing. The Court proceedings are separate from the DMV proceedings. If it is determined by the DMV that you refused to submit to a chemical test, your license will be suspended for one year. There is no negotiating with the Department of Motor Vehicles when it comes to a refusal.

4. Speeding and/or Reckless Driving – If you were speeding at the time of your arrest for DUI, sentence enhancements can be imposed. If you were on a surface street, you must have been travelling 20 miles over the speed limit and 30 miles over the speed limit on the freeway for enhancements to apply.

5. Minor Passenger – If at the time you are arrested for DUI, you have a minor child, under the age of 14 years, you may be subject to an enhancement charge or the additional charge of child endangerment. If you are convicted of DUI with a minor child in the car, the additional time you may face is as follows: a) 48 hours for a first time DUI; b) 10 days for a second DUI; c) 30 days for a third DUI and d) 90 days for a fourth DUI conviction.

6. Accident – If you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence, sentence enhancements will be imposed. If the accident results in injuries to another, the prosecution can file felony charges. If you are convicted of DUI involving an accident, along with felony DUI for causing injuries, the time you may be facing is an additional 90 days to one year.

The prosecution typically will include as many enhancements in the charges as are applicable. For purposes of a plea bargain, an experienced DUI defense attorney will begin negotiations with the District Attorney, in an effort to get all of some of the enhancements dismissed. This will significantly reduce the jail time exposure, as well as reduce the fines and penalties associated with sentence enhancements.

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An Ignition Interlock Device, or IID, is an option/sentence alternative, for people who have been convicted of driving under the influence. The IID is a small device, similar to a Breathalyzer that attaches to the steering column of a car. The purpose of the device is to measure whether or not a person has been drinking alcohol before they begin driving. Once installed, the person driving the car must provide an alcohol-free breath sample or the car will not start. In order to avoid someone else providing the alcohol-free sample, once a person begins to drive, the device will require that intermittent breath samples be provided. Once the device has requested a sample, the driver has 6 minutes to provide the sample. If no sample is provided, it is recorded as a “fail” and the information is sent to the Court. The IID’s are designed to ensure that only the person required is providing the breath sample. The device requires a specific breath pattern while a breath sample is being provided and has a very short cord attached to it. This is to avoid someone else providing the sample while the individual is driving. The device also records all starts and stops, any tampering with or attempts to disconnect and all results.

The IID can be a very useful tool in negotiating a plea. Especially for someone who has a full-time job and is financially responsible for their family. For some, jail time means the loss of a job and great hardship on their family.

There are sentencing alternatives available for convictions of a DUI and for this reason, anyone who has been arrested and is being charged with driving under the influence should consult an experienced DUI Defense Attorney.

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The California State Senate is one step closer to approving a bill that would allow people convicted of driving under the influence and other misdemeanor offenses, to reduce their jail time. Specifically, it would allow the Sheriff’s Department to give credit against jail sentences for participating in educational, vocational, substance abuse or parenting programs. This would be an alternative to the current manual labor work release program. The Bill would apply mainly to those offenses that are eligible for jail sentences.

The purpose of the bill is to offer incentive to people who have been convicted of less serious misdemeanors, to make an effort to fully integrate into the general society. Most individuals arrested for DUI or Drunk Driving are employed and have families that depend on them. If convicted of Driving Under the Influence and sentenced to serve time in jail, this can be an enormous burden on one’s family and can jeopardize the job that provides the income for the family.

If you have been convicted of a DUI in Orange County, there are options for alternative sentencing. A skilled criminal defense attorney will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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Driving Under the Influence or DUI is considered a serious offense in California and the Prosecution pursues the penalties and punishments seriously. Recent statistics have shown that there are approximately 13,000 DUI arrests in Orange County alone.


A conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

DUI, or driving under the influence, charges are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, some DUI’s can be charged as felonies. A DUI that is charged as a Felony DUI, usually involves DUI manslaughter; DUI causing serious injury; 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years; and4th DUI conviction at any time. Drunk drivers who cause injury, or DUI with injury is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” charge, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment. An experienced criminal defense attorney, or DUI defense attorney, will have the knowledge and experience that is necessary to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. A conviction of felony DUI carries a much more serious punishment than a misdemeanor DUI. A misdemeanor first offense DUI can be punishable by up to six months in the county jail, whereas a felony DUI can carry a year or more in state prison sentence.

A conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for this reason, it is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

The following are standard penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence or DUI, in Orange County, California:

DUI 1st Offense: Jail time (up to 6 months); fines (up to$1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; and driver’s license suspension.

DUI 2nd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

DUI 3rd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $2,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

In California we have what is called Sentence Enhancements. What this means is that if convicted of DUI, under certain circumstances the Court can impose a greater penalty. Those circumstances include: 1) Prior Convictions – If convicted of a DUI within the last ten years, jail time, DUI school and license suspension periods are increased. Two priors within ten years results in even further penalty increases and if you have three or more, you will be charged with felony DUI; 2) High Blood Alcohol Level: A BAC level of .15 or higher, results in an enhanced sentence; 3) Test Refusall: There are two consequences to refusing to take a chemical test. The amount of jail time is increased and the DMV will impose their administrative suspension of your driving privilege; 4) Speeding and/or Reckless Driving: At the time of arrest, a sentence enhancement will be imposed for 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway.

An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will look closely at the police report and at the conduct of the investigating officers. Specifically, any misconduct or violation of rights must be taken into consideration. Further, if a field sobriety test was performed, and this is what the arrest was based on, it should be challenged due to the fact that field sobriety tests are subjective, basically the opinion of the officer performing the test. If a roadside Breathalyzerr is used, this must also be looked at carefully as the results are unreliable and there are too many ways to skew the results. The law does require that anyone being arrested for suspicion of DUI must take a chemical test. Blood or breath, at the police station, are the two choices. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to perform a field sobriety test. If a breath test was used at the police station, the maintenance logs of the breath machine need to be examined. If blood was taken, the attorney may want to employ the services of an expert to perform a “Blood Split”, which can help determine the blood alcohol level at the time of the stop rather than at the time the blood was taken. This can sometimes result in a lower blood alcohol level.

Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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