Like every other state in the nation, California takes the crime of driving under the influence extremely seriously. This has come to be reflected in the harshness of California’s DUI laws, which essentially throw the book at anyone who picks up a second conviction.

The Evidence That Will Be Gathered Against You

In order to establish that someone has been driving under the influence, California law enforcement officers will rely upon a number of things. The first piece of evidence gathered will be the officer’s initial impression of a driver’s state, including the way that driver was driving, as well as how he or she behaved when interviewed. After this, field sobriety tests will be administered, and if the officer determines that the driver is under the influence, then that driver will be arrested. Following booking, the driver will be subjected to a chemical test, which every California driver is required to submit to. All of this evidence, as well as any statements made by the driver, will be used when the state prosecutes a DUI case.

California’s 10-Year Look-Back Period

The state of California has a 10-year look-back period for determining whether a current DUI charge is with a prior. So, if you are currently facing a DUI charge, and you have an additional conviction on your record from the past 10 years, then the current charge will be considered a second. However, if that previous DUI conviction is outside of that 10-year window, then the current charge will not be handled in connection with the prior charge. It should be noted, though, that in some cases an attorney may be able to have a previous DUI charge that occurred within a 10-year window excluded, thus limiting the consequences of the current charge.

The Consequences for a Second DUI Conviction

In almost every case, a second DUI conviction in California will be considered a misdemeanor, although this will depend on the circumstances of the case. In instances where a driver was exceedingly intoxicated, was operating his or her vehicle in an extremely reckless manner, or caused an accident that led to death or bodily injury, a second DUI charge will almost certainly become a felony.

For cases where a second DUI is considered a misdemeanor, a driver can expect to face the following consequences following a conviction. The courts will mandate that the driver subject themselves to DUI classes and counseling for substance abuse, both of which will need to be attended for a year and a half or more. In addition to this, the driver may be required to serve a jail term of up to one year in county jail. However, in the majority of cases, probation is meted out instead of jail. Finally, a driver will find that securing a restricted license to get to and from work and other obligations is next to impossible – although, a qualified lawyer may be able to help with this.

It should be noted that the above consequences are in addition to the administrative consequences that are handed out by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is why it’s important that any driver facing a second DUI charge in California give both the administrative process and the court process their due diligence.

Always Hire a Lawyer

The penalties for second DUI convictions (and subsequent ones) are quite severe in California. Anyone who’s currently facing a second DUI charge in the state should absolutely retain the services of a qualified DUI lawyer to get the best outcome in his or her case.