Even as lawmakers continue to pass much stricter DUI laws, drunk driving remains a major problem on America’s roads. According to recent numbers, nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Even here in California, where we have some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, hundreds of thousands of drivers are arrested for the crime each year.
DUI is No Slap on the Wrist
As an experienced DUI lawyer, I’ve represented many clients who made the mistake of driving drunk. One thing most of them had in common was that they were only vaguely aware of the seriousness of the crime with which they were charged. Many mistakenly believed that drunk driving convictions are really no big deal. Most knew, for example, that they would have to pay a fine for the infraction. But they were almost always blissfully unaware of the other penalties that may, and often are, imposed by courts in California.
The Many Penalties
Although it is a misdemeanor, a first DUI conviction in the Golden State is serious business. In addition to a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and over $2,600 in assorted penalties, it is possible (although rare) to be sentenced to as much as six months in jail for the crime.
Driving privileges may also be suspended for up to six months, and DUI classes are mandatory. Last but not least, the accused must face not one, but two separate processes by which their license can be suspended—the first at the courthouse and the second at the DMV.
To further discourage people from drunk driving, California utilizes enhanced penalties based on the following factors:
– Excessive Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): If the concentration of alcohol in the driver’s blood is 0.15 percent or above
– Excessive Speed: If the driver was travelling 20 MPH over the speed limit when stopped on the street or 30 MPH over on the highway
– Minor Passenger: If a minor under the age of 14 was a passenger when stopped
– Multiple Victims: If one or more persons were killed or injured
– Prior DUI: If the driver has a prior drunk driving conviction
DUI is always a serious crime here in California, and as the information here illustrates, it needs to be treated as such.
If you or someone you love was involved in a drunk driving accident, please give us a call anytime at 310-633-4612 for a free consultation.