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DUI Punishments

San Rafael DUI Defense Attorney: Punishments for Drunk Driving in California

The punishment is perhaps the biggest fear for people facing a DUI/DWI conviction. The possibility of a jail sentence, stiff fine, driver's license suspension and more are all too real. Minimum DUI punishments in California are harsh and increase significantly with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels over .15, speeding (30 mph over the speed limit), injury, accidents and other aggravating factors.  Repeat DUI offenders in California face mandatory jail sentences and drivers arrested for a fourth DUI can be charged with a felony and they face a long prison sentence if convicted.

If you face DUI charges in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano or Sonoma Counties or other Bay Area communities, I can help you.  I am John Stanko and I am an experienced Northern California DUI defense lawyer devoted to defending people accused of driving under the influence for more than a decade.  Contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.  I offer free consultations via the telephone and in person at my offices in San Rafael and Vallejo, California.

Punishments for DWI/DUI

All nine counties in the San Francisco Bay area all have similar punishment DUI convictions.  However, laws can and do change quickly and regularly.  To receive even minimum DUI penalties and punishments can require help from an experienced DUI lawyer.

California punishment for driving under the influence in violation of Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b).

  • First Offenses: up to 6 months in jail, $1,000 maximum fine plus penalties, probation for 3 to 5 years, mandatory attendance at a DUI first offender program for 3 to 9 months, possible installatio of a ignition interlock device (IID), and the California Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for at least 6 months.
  • Second Offenses: 10 days to a year in jail, fines and penalties around $2,500, 18 month multiple offender DUI program,  possible IID installation, and mandatory DMV license suspension for 2 years.
  • Third Offenses: mandatory 120 days in jail and up to a year maximum sentence, $2500 or more in fines and penalties, mandatory 18 months or 30-month multiple offender treatment program, IID installation, and the DMV will revoke your license for 3 years.
  • Fourth Offenses or More: minimum 180 days to a year in jail, similar fines and alcohol/drug treatment as third offenses, and your license revoked for 4 years.  However, a fourth offense for driving under the influence may be chargable as a felony with up to 3 years in prison, permanent loss of your driver's license and even stiffer fines and penalties.

The look back period for prior DUI offenses is currently 10 years, regardless of where the prior occurred and the laws were then.  If you are arrested for a DUI within ten years of a prior conviciton, the prior offfense can be used to enhance your current charges.  The period of priorability is subject to change and has gone from 5 to 7 to 10 years.  Further, there is a Bill in front of the California State Legislature to make the look back period for Life.

In addition to your DUI criminal case, my office also handles separate, administrative license suspension hearings on your behalf.

Remember when you get arrested for a DUI that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  For answers to frequently asked questions about driving under the influence, please read our DUI FAQs.

For a free consultation and evaluation of your DUI case, call Attorney John Stanko toll free at 1-877-204-8900, or contact me online at my firm, the Law Office of John Stanko, Inc.


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In today’s time and turmoil, it is truly rare to find an individual to be so knowledgeable, honest, and integrity not compromised. A rare asset “a gem” to the profession. For anyone seeking legal counsel. I say go no further then Attorney John Stanko. Mr. Stanko is able, dependable, and if all possible will help to resolve your situation. A fine gentleman indeed! Dr. Henri and Evelyn LePre
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