If you are being investigated for or charged with a DUI in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles County, you'll need a top-rated criminal defense attorney to assist you. This is because the offense of DUI carries with it severe penalties, which can lead to negative changes in your life.

We at the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin have extensive experience in defending DUI charges. We have helped numerous defendants become acquitted or have their charges dismissed or reduced. Due to our many years of practice, we have in-depth familiarity with all the local court processes utilized in Los Angeles County. We defend all types of DUI charges, and we can even represent you at your DMV hearing.

DUI as a Priorable Offense

Driving under the influence is categorized as a priorable offense in the state of California. This means that its penalties become more severe with each subsequent charge. For instance, the offense of first time DUI has less harsh penalties when compared to a second, third, or fourth time DUI.

A person who has been convicted of a first time DUI will be charged with second-time DUI if he/she is arrested for driving under intoxication within a timeframe of ten years from the date when the first DUI charge was filed in court. A DUI conviction will remain on your record as a prior offense for ten years. When these ten years lapse, the prosecution will not consider your prior DUI conviction in subsequent offenses.

DUI can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A prosecutor may charge you with a felony DUI if you injure another person while driving, have four or more prior DUI convictions, or have a past felony DUI conviction.

Though the penalties for DUI are severe, they can be reduced or avoided if you hire a skilled attorney to defend you.

The Penalties for First Time DUI

First-time DUIs are usually charged as misdemeanors with the following penalties:

1.       Fine

The fine for a first time DUI ranges between $390 - $1,000. Various fees and penalty assessments may increase the value of the fine, and it may reach $3,600.

2.       Jail Time

The court may order you to serve a jail term of a maximum of six months. The length of your jail term will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.

3.       License Suspension

The court may suspend your driver's license for six months. Additionally, the DMV may impose a 4-month suspension period on your license. If you refused to take a BAC test, the suspension period might be extended to one year. Often, these suspension periods overlap; but you will only face the longest one. Sometimes, you may be permitted to apply for a restricted license to drive to and from work and DUI school.

4.       Probation

You may be ordered to serve a probation term that may be between 3-5 years. You will have to attend a DUI educational program for three months to fulfill one of the conditions of the probation. If your BAC was 0.20% or higher, the court would extend the length of the DUI educational program to nine months.

5.       IID Installation

If the DMV permits you to obtain a restricted license, you will have to install an ignition interlock device in your car for six months. You will be personally responsible for the installation and maintenance costs of the IID.

The Penalties for Second Time DUI

Just like first time DUI, second time DUI is charged as a misdemeanor. Its punishments include:

1.       Fine

You will be ordered to pay a fine between $390 - $1,000. There are also other penalty assessments and court fees that you will have to pay, raising the total value of the fine to be up to $4,000.

2.       Jail Time

You may face jail time of up to one year upon conviction. However, an experienced DUI attorney can convince the court to issue an alternative sentence instead of a jail term.

3.       License Suspension

The court will suspend your license for two years, and the DMV will impose a one-year suspension period if your BAC was 0.08% or higher. You can apply for a restricted license within 90 days from the date when the suspension period commences. If your DUI involved drugs, you would only be eligible for a license after you have been on probation for one year.

4.       Probation

You will be ordered to serve a three-year probation period. This period may be extended to five years. You must attend a DUI school for 18 or 30 months to satisfy the conditions of the probation.

5.       IID Installation

You will be ordered to install an IID in your car for one year. The DMV will supervise the installation process.

The Penalties for Third Time DUI

A third time DUI is charged as a misdemeanor in California, and it has the following penalties:

1.       Fine

The value of the fine may be between $390 - $1,000. A third time DUI conviction may carry with it hefty penalty assessments that will raise the total value of the fine to be a maximum of $18,000.

2.       Jail Time

You risk facing a county jail term of a maximum of one year. In the alternative, the court may order you to serve a state prison sentence of sixteen months.

3.       License Suspension

The criminal court will suspend your license for three years. The DMV will order a one-year suspension period on your license if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. After a suspension period of six months, you will be considered eligible for a restricted license.

4.       Probation

The court will order you to serve a probation term of 3-5 years. Additionally, you should complete a 30-month DUI educational program as a probation condition.

5.       IID Installation

You will have to install an IID in your car for two years. The authorities will check your vehicle regularly to ensure that you maintain the IID in proper condition.

The Penalties for Fourth Time DUI

Fourth and other subsequent DUIs are charged as felonies in California. You will also be charged with felony DUI if you caused an accident that led to another person’s injuries. The consequences of felony DUI include:

1.       Fine

You will have to pay a fine varying between $390 - $5,000. There are also other penalty assessments that you must pay, increasing the total value of the fine to be a maximum of $18,000.

2.       Jail Time

Upon conviction, you may face a state prison sentence that may range from 16 months to three years. This jail term may be lengthened if there are aggravating factors in your case.

3.       License Suspension

The court will suspend your driver’s license for four years. However, this suspension period may be extended to last for a lifetime, especially if you violate one of your probation conditions.

4.       Probation

You will have to complete a 3-5 year probation term. Also, you must attend a DUI school for 30 months as one of the conditions of probation.

5.       IID Installation

The authorities will require you to set up an IID in your car for three years if you qualify for a restricted license. You will have to cater for the costs of IID installation and maintenance.

6.       Record

Your record will bear the 'convicted felon status.' This bad record will prevent you from accessing opportunities such as jobs and scholarships.

The Punishment for DUI Causing Death

If you cause another person's death while driving under the influence, the prosecution may charge you with vehicular manslaughter or Watson murder. The punishments for DUI causing death vary widely, and they may range from a one-year jail term to a state prison sentence of a maximum of twenty-five years.

The Penalties for Commercial DUI

The DMV holds individuals who have commercial driver’s licenses in high regard. Such individuals should not have a BAC of 0.04% or higher while driving. If they do, they will probably be arrested and prosecuted for DUI. As a holder of a commercial driver’s license, you must be extremely careful because it is easy to blow 0.04% even if you feel sober.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, if holders of commercial driver's licenses refuse to take a BAC test, the court should assume that they have already pleaded guilty, and their licenses should be revoked or suspended. All the penalties we have listed for the first time and subsequent DUI apply to commercial DUI, though the court will enhance them. Upon conviction of first time commercial DUI, the DMV will impose a one-year suspension of your commercial driver's license. A second-time conviction of commercial DUI will result in the permanent revocation of your license. Convicts of commercial DUI are not eligible for restricted licenses, and their employers must be notified of their arrests within thirty days.

Furthermore, commercial drivers may face a jail term of at least three years if they were operating a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous substances while intoxicated. A subsequent offense of this nature may result in life imprisonment. The court will also sentence commercial drivers to life imprisonment if they use their licenses to commit felonies involving the transportation and sale of controlled substances.

The Penalties for Foreign Citizen DUI

Non-US citizens will be subjected to all the DUI penalties enlisted above, together with other immigration-related consequences. As a foreign national charged with a DUI in California, you should hire an attorney who is experienced in both DUI cases and immigration law to avoid the following penalties:

1.       Revocation of Visas

The US Department of Immigration can automatically revoke your visa immediately after you have been arrested for DUI. You will be surprised how quickly this happens because it isn't a requirement for the court to hold you guilty for consular officers to revoke your visa. Typically, California law enforcement agencies notify the consular officers of your arrest; and these officers will serve you a revocation notice even before you are arraigned in court.

Once the Department of Immigration revokes your visa, you will not be permitted to reenter the United States. If you attempt to do so, you will be denied entry upon landing.

2.       Undocumented Immigrants may face Deportation

Illegal immigrants who have been arrested for DUI may face deportation, regardless of whether or not the court holds them guilty. California law enforcement agencies may share your arrest records with the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When this department becomes aware of your DUI arrest, it will commence deportation proceedings against you. ICE has limited resources, and it focuses more on individuals who have a criminal history. It is thus imperative for you to avoid a DUI criminal conviction so that you can minimize the risk of being deported.

3.       Deportation for DUIs Involving Aggravating Factors

In the past, a DUI conviction was not a ground for the deportation of legal aliens. Currently, this position has changed to the effect that individuals who have been convicted of DUI involving aggravating factors may face deportation. Some of these aggravating factors include:

  • Having a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • Failing to submit to a BAC chemical blood or breath test.
  • Committing a DUI while having a child who is below 14 years old inside your car.
  • Speeding.

California DUI Alternative Sentencing Options

You can avoid jail time even if you have been convicted of DUI, especially if you have an experienced DUI attorney by your side. Such an attorney may convince the court to agree to alternative sentencing options instead of a jail term. Some examples of these options include community service, house arrest, or electronic monitoring. Attorneys who have not specialized in DUI defense may not know that these options exist or how to persuade the court to agree to them.

Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

It is vital to hire a skilled DUI attorney to escape the harsh penalties enlisted above. If you or your loved one has been charged with a DUI in Beverly Hills or any neighborhood within Los Angeles, you can call us at 310-273-9600 to discuss your case. We offer free initial consultations.