Every year California adds new penalties for Drunk Driving convictions. The following is a summary of the most common punishments set forth in the CA Judge's Benchguide. It is important to understand that these sentencing guidelines can be imposed, however, there are ways to avoid them in appropriate cases where an offense is reduced or a negotiated sentence is worked out with the District Attorney. According to one attorney Brian Michaels, there is a range of discretion that can be exercised in certain cases, particularly when the facts and evidence warrant a reduction in the substantive charge.
For a First Time Conviction of 23152 a or b, here are the sentence guidelines:
(1) Jail time: Court may impose minimum 48 hours to maximum 6 months (2) Fine: minimum $390 to maximum $1,000, plus assessments; and (3) 6-month license suspension, and immediate surrender of license to court. 10-month license suspension if 9-month treatment program is ordered. DMV will not reinstate license until the defendant provides proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of 3-month or 9-month licensed driving-under-the-influence program approved by the state of California.
In all DUI cases: (1) Court may disallow issuance of a restricted driver's license if it determines that defendant would present a traffic safety or public safety risk.
(2) Maximum $50 alcohol abuse education and prevention penalty assessment unless defendant is unable to pay
(3) If defendant's blood-alcohol concentration was less than .20%, by weight, court must order participation in a licensed alcohol or other drug education and counseling program for minimum of 3 months;
(4) If defendant's blood-alcohol concentration was .20% or more, by weight, or defendant refused to take a chemical test, court must order participation in a licensed alcohol or other drug education and counseling program for minimum of 9 months.
(5) Additional mandatory probation terms and conditions under Veh C §23600(b)(1)–(4): • Probation for minimum 3 years and maximum 5 years; • Defendant may not drive vehicle with measurable amount of alcohol in blood, and court must revoke probation under Veh C §23600(d) if blood alcohol of over .04%; • If arrested for DUI, defendant may not refuse to submit to blood alcohol test; and • Defendant may not commit a criminal offense.
Additional DUI penalties and enhancements: (1) If chemical test was refused, license restriction may not be imposed instead of minimum 48 hours' imprisonment.
(2) If alcohol concentration of .15% or more or chemical test was refused, court must consider as a special factor in determining additional or enhanced terms and conditions of probation. (In Torrance Court, for example, it is common for the Court to require a 6 month DUI school for offenders between .15 and .19 BAC)
(3) If vehicle involved required class A or class B driver's license, court must order the DMV to suspend license for six months.
(4) If minor passenger under 14 years was in vehicle, enhanced mandatory imprisonment of 48 continuous hours unless defendant also convicted of Pen C §273a. (PC273a is a serious criminal offense of child abuse/endangerment. Should a person be facing this charge it is imperative to fight the case differently than a standard DUI, according to one attorney, the long-term consequences of a PC273a conviction can be devastating.)
(5) If defendant is under age 21, additional 1-year license suspension or delay and immediate surrender of license to court.
(6) If defendant drives 30 mph over limit on freeway (20 mph for other roads) in manner prohibited by Veh C §23103 during commission of DUI, additional and consecutive term of 60 days, except in unusual cases with specification of reasons on record;
(7) Court must order defendant to attend and complete county alcohol and drug problem assessment program if defendant has a prior conviction of Vehicle Code §23152 or §23153 that occurred more than 10 years ago, or has been previously convicted of Pen C §647(f) (public intoxication). If assessment recommends additional treatment, the court may order the defendant to enroll in 18-month or 30-month driving-under-the-influence program in lieu of the 3-month or 9-month DUI program described.
(8) Court may order vehicle impounded for 1–30 days if defendant is registered owner.
(9) Court may require installation of a functioning, certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle owned or operated by defendant and prohibit defendant from operating any vehicle unless equipped with such device.
Moreover, The counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare are participants in a pilot program in which the DMV requires a defendant convicted of DUI, 23152 or 23153 to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle owned or operated by the defendant for a specified term as a condition of being issued a restricted driver's license, being issued a driver's license, or having the privilege to operate a vehicle reinstated. In the nonpilot counties, repeat DUI offenders may apply for and receive a restricted license from the DMV if they install an IID and comply with other requirements.