California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it unlawful for a person to be driving a vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are arrested and charged with the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you will be given the opportunity to be heard in a criminal court. If it is found that you plead guilty, or are found guilty, you will be convicted. With that conviction there will be a sentence. The terms of that sentence will depend on the certain different factors.
The statue only states a range for sentencing when it comes to different offenses. The reason it does not specify one sentence is because each case is different, and there will be many different things a Judge will take into account when specifying a sentence. Among the those factors is whether there is a prior criminal history, the nature of the crime, as well as the facts surrounding the offence.
The California Vehicle Code specifies that if a person is found guilty of a DUI, then they are facing the following:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $1,000.00 fine plus penalties and assessments
- Attendance in an alcohol/drug program
- Six month suspension of drivers license
- 3 years of summary probation
These possible penalties are for a first time DUI offense. This means that there is no DUI on your previous record, and that this is the first time you are being charged with driving while intoxicated.
How does the Judge decide what the sentence will be? Let’s consider two scenarios to get a better idea.
David is driving home from a party and he has been drinking. His blood alcohol is .15. He is weaving in and out of oncoming traffic when he is stopped. Additionally he has a prior charge and conviction of petty theft on his record. He was also driving at a speed of 85 mph when he is stopped by officers. Thankfully, there were no accidents or injuries to others.
Donna is driving home from a bridal shower. She had a glass of wine and when tested, her blood alcohol level was .08. She is employed as a full time school teacher and has no prior criminal record. Not even a parking ticket. She was stopped for not doing a complete stop at a stop sign, and was going approximately 15 mph at the time.
When comparing the two scenarios, it is likely that Donna will have a sentence on the lower end of the spectrum in comparison to David. David was driving fast, had a higher blood alcohol content, and he had a prior criminal charge. Donna, in comparison, does not. It is the job of a experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer to emphasize the strong points of the facts of your case and if convicted, argue to keep your sentence as minimal as possible.