What are the consequences for a multiple-DUI offender in California?

Christopher J. McCann - Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Christopher J. McCann

Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC
Santa Ana, CA
Phone: 888-973-6193
Fax: 888-361-4CJM

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Multiple DUI convictions carry significantly more consequences than for a first offense. Jail time of at least 96 hours is mandatory, as well as a license suspension for two years, with an ignition interlock device (“IID”) restricted license not available until 90 days of that suspension has been served.

Other consequences for a repeat offense can include - periods of probation of up to 5 years, enhanced fines and – for a fourth DUI conviction – the prospect of a felony and going to state prison.

For many drivers, a second-offense charge is therefore a wakeup call to find an effective attorney to fight the case. With skilled legal help, you can resolve DUI charges in ways that minimize the consequences.   

Mandatory Jail Time

Going to jail is mandatory with a repeat-DUI conviction in California. The minimum amount of time is 96 hours. In many counties, however, prosecutors seek much more time than that as part of a sentence.

The required jail time can be served in increments, however, so that it doesn’t interfere with work. But the length of a jail sentence for a repeat-offense DUI can be up to one year. A skilled defense attorney can often get this custody time converted to time instead on house arrest, electronic monitoring, city jail, in-patient rehabilitation and even outpatient rehabilitation.

Driver’s License Revocation

For a second-time DUI conviction, the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driver’s license for two years. A third-time DUI conviction will result in a 3 year revocation.

For second-time offenders, if you install an ignition-interlock device, you will be able to drive anywhere on that IID-restricted license after 90 days of suspension. But if you refused to take a chemical test following your arrest for DUI, or were still on probation for the first DUI at the time of your arrest, the DMV will prevent you from getting a restricted license during the first year that your license is suspended.

Other Consequences For Repeat DUI

A repeat-offense DUI also comes with several other consequences. These include:

  • Fees, fines and penalty assessments – Though these amounts are generally the same as for a first-offense DUI (approximately $2,000), they may go up as part of the plea negotiations. In some cases, they may be as high as $2,500.
  • Required alcohol program – The multiple-offender course (the “SB-38 program”) is 90 hours in length and may cost $1700 or more.
  • Probation – DUI probation is typically unsupervised, which means you don’t have to report to a probation officer. But for a multiple-DUI offender, unsupervised probation can last for up to 5 years.

Other case-specific sentencing enhancements can occur in certain factual circumstances. These include injuries to others, elevated blood-alcohol levels, excessive speed, already being on DUI probation and the presence of a child under 14 in the car.

When DUI Is Charged As A Felony

If you have had three prior DUI convictions within the past ten years, a fourth charge can be brought as a felony rather than as a misdemeanor.

Even a first-time DUI can be charged as a felony if as a result of the driving there were injuries caused to others. If a child of age 14 or under was in the car, prosecutors could even bring charges of felony child endangerment.

A conviction on charges such as these can result in significant jail time or even time in prison.


Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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