Driving under the influence (DUI) offenses generally lead to a variety of different penalties and consequences. However, there are differences in those penalties and consequences depending on whether you have had a DUI conviction in the past. This means that you will face tougher sentences with a second DUI offense than with a first.
As a DUI defense attorney in Fresno, I work with more clients charged with their first or second DUI offense rather than a third or subsequent offense. That is why I want to devote this post to the differences between a first and second DUI charge.
As a reminder, an individual may be charged with DUI if he is found to have a BAC of .08% or greater while driving. If an officer determines that you are "under the influence" and driving, you will be arrested for DUI.
If this is your 1st DUI offense: In Fresno, your first DUI offense means automatic license suspension, a maximum of 6 months in jail, approximately $2,000 in fines, and additional court fees. Further, you will likely be expected to install an ignition interlock device in your car and attend an alcohol education program. The program required as a first offender is usually a 3-month, 30-hour program.
If you are a commercial driver and receive a DUI conviction, in addition to your personal license being suspended, your commercial license endorsement will be automatically suspended for an entire year. This suspension is in addition to any other required fees and penalties the state imposes on you.
Further, under the state's implied consent law, you are expected to comply with an officer's request for a breath or other chemical test to determine your BAC. A first refusal will lead to a license suspension of one year.
If this is your 2nd DUI offense: In the state of California, a second DUI offense means a potential one-year jail sentence and as much as $2,000 in fines. Not only will your time in jail be longer, but the ignition interlock device will likely stay in your vehicle longer and the alcohol education program you are forced to attend will also be for a longer period of time. Here, the program is around 18 months. The program consists of group counseling and regular interviews with counselors.
Under implied consent, a second refusal will lead to an automatic two year license suspension.
Whether this your first offense or your second, it's a good idea to work with an experienced and local attorney who understands the laws and can explain your rights and responsibilities to you. This is a difficult time for you - that is to be expected.
No one plans on being arrested and charged with DUI. Unfortunately, it does happen and there are far too many people who are unlawfully arrested. Many of these people do not think they can win and so they just plead guilty. This is not true! It is in your best interest to consult with a DUI defense lawyer after your Fresno arrest. Do not hesitate to call my office to schedule an initial consultation.