Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious violation of California law, and most people know that breaking that particular law has equally serious consequences. There are different penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd offense DUI. But what happens when you receive, as a 39-year-old man from Petaluma has, your 5th DUI charge in 10 years time?
The legal term ‘priorable’ is nearly unique to California law and DUIs are what are known as ‘priorable’ offenses. What this really means is that one offense builds on another, causing increases in punishments and other consequences as they snowball. California prosecutors are allowed to consider any DUI convictions that occur within a 10-year period (often called a “lookback” period) even convictions that took place in other states, but would, according to California law, be considered a DUI and any DUI charges that have been pled down to “wet reckless” convictions. Below are some simple facts that you need to know if you have been arrested for your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. DUI (CA Vehicle Code 23152(a)).
A first offense DUI conviction often results in informal probation, small fines (up to $1,000), forcible completion of a state-approved alcohol or drug abuse program, and a maximum 10-month suspension of one’s driver’s license. If a second DUI conviction occurs, a minimum county jail sentence is added (96 hours to 1 year), state-approved DUI school is required, and the period of suspension of one’s driver’s license goes up to 2 years. A third conviction will likely mean a 120-day to one-year stint in county jail, additional fines, another shot at DUI school, a 3-year suspension of one’s driver’s license, and will earn an individual the distinction of being considered a ‘habitual traffic offender’ by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Although a 5th DUI conviction occurring within the 10-year lookback period is certainly rare, there are provisions for situations like this in CA Vehicle Code 23550.5. In this case, the Petaluma man is likely to have his driver’s license revoked for at least a period of 4 years and will have to prove to the court that he is financially responsible and has completed DUI courses in order to regain the right to drive at all. Additionally, he will certainly spend some time in county jail, probably 4 years.