As you probably know, your criminal record can be taken into consideration when you are being sentenced for a crime. If you have had prior offenses within a certain period of time, you can be punished more severely than if it was your first offense. California courts ensure that crime recidivists, who are also called repeat offenders, are punished harshly to prevent them from committing the same offense again. In California, DUIs are seen as a big problem. Many DUI offenders are repeat offenders, meaning they have been convicted of a DUI or wet reckless charge before. Wet reckless driving is essentially a reckless driving charge that will be noted in your record as having involved alcohol. This is usually part of a plea bargain for a DUI charge however, for the purposes of sentencing on a DUI charge, a wet reckless will be considered the same as a DUI. The California criminal court system will consider any DUI or wet reckless offense within the last 10 years when sentencing you. Each successive DUI or wet reckless charge you get within a ten-year period will be punished more severely than the last one. With your first DUI, within the ten year look back period, you face up to a $1,000 fine, plus associated penalties, up to six months in jail, although this is generally reduced considerably, three months of court ordered alcohol education courses and, potentially, the installation of an ignition interlock device, or IID. IIDs are mandatory for first time DUI offenders in four California counties: Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare. However, first time offenders in other counties in California may also be ordered to install an IID, based on the case facts, your criminal history and the prosecution's recommendation. The California DMV will also hand down six months of suspended driving privileges, or one month of a hard suspension followed by a restricted license. With your second DUI, you will face mandatory jail time, which cannot be stayed, and three to five years of probation. The California DMV will suspend your license for one whole year and you will not be eligible to apply for a restricted license after one month. You will also have to take a longer course of alcohol education classes, which will last 18 months instead of just three. Remember, these classes are at a cost to you. Third and fourth DUI offenses within a ten-year period are punished in similar increments, with more jail and probation time, longer license suspensions, longer alcohol education classes and larger fines. Having several DUIs can also result in your DUI being charged as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, as the first few offenses will most likely be charged. As you can see, the look back period is extremely important because the punishments for subsequent DUIs are substantial. Keep in mind that while the DUI look back period is ten years, any DUI or wet reckless charge will still remain on your record after that, unless you petition to have it dismissed. So, while only DUIs or wet reckless charges from the last ten years can be held against you to enhance your current DUI punishments, the prosecution will still be able to see if you've had a DUI prior to ten years ago. This is more important for employment, housing and public assistance purposes than being sentenced for another offense. A criminal charge past ten years ago could still limit your job prospects and render you ineligible for certain housing opportunities and public assistance resources. After you successfully complete your probation period, you can petition to have your charge dismissed. However, for the purposes of subsequent DUI sentencing, it will still be considered a prior offense. Essentially any and every DUI or wet reckless conviction in the last ten years can be held against you, regardless of whether or not the charge is still on your record. In this respect, DUIs can really cast a shadow over you for ten whole years. If you are facing DUI charges, make sure to at least consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. A DUI is a serious charge with long-term consequences so it is worth the effort to explore your defense options with a skilled attorney.
Do you have one or more DUIs on your record and are facing DUI charges again? DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens knows DUI defense and will not be afraid to take your case all the way. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert DUI defense counsel and will help you obtain the most favorable case outcome possible. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.