If you have been arrested on charges of DUI and you already have a past DUI conviction on your record, you are in danger of receiving a much harsher sentence than for a first-time DUI if convicted. The importance of having an experienced DUI defense attorney working in your behalf becomes significantly greater when facing a second DUI.

At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we understand the inner workings of the California Vehicle Code and of local Los Angeles Area courts, and we know how to build a solid defense that will maximize your chances of a favorable outcome to your case.

To learn more about how to fight to reverse your DMV license suspension at your upcoming hearing and/or to prevail in the courtroom, contact us 24/7 at 310-848-1376 to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer. Below, however, we give you a basic introduction on what to expect.

How to Get Your License Back After a DUI Arrest

When arrested for your DUI, your license was confiscated by the arresting officer and immediately suspended, and in its place, you receive the 30-day temporary license to use while awaiting your DMV hearing. Only by requesting a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of your arrest can you have any chance of getting it reinstated without a court case.

If it can be shown at your DMV hearing that your arrest or the traffic stop just before it were in any way illegal, or if by any other means it can be shown that your DUI arrest had not valid basis, the judge will likely throw out your case and allow your license to be immediately restored.

Otherwise, you will need to proceed to a jury trial and win either a dismissal or acquittal. If this also cannot be done, a good DUI lawyer may still be able to get you a restricted license in a plea bargain and reduce the charge/sentence against you. But all sentencing elements would have to be fulfilled and a license reissue fee paid before your driving privileges would be fully restored.

Possible Penalties for a Second DUI Offense

It is important to understand that, in California, there are two distinct legal processes dealing with DUIs. First, there is the DMV administrative action; second, there is the sentence handed down by a judge in an actual court case.

The arresting officer sends your license to the DMV, and it is suspended on a "per se" basis since the officer reports that you either failed the BAC and/or FST tests or refused to submit to chemical testing. However, understand that the only punishment the DMV can impose is suspension of your license, whereas, a court ruling can add jail time, fines, and other sentencing elements.

Also understand that both DMV and court-imposed penalties are harsher when a past DUI conviction is established to be on your record, provided it occurred within 10 years of your previous DUI arrest. However, it is still a misdemeanor, a felony DUI only resulting from aggravating elements such as DUI with injury, child endangerment, or hit-and-run DUI.

For a second-offense DUI, the DMV will suspend your driver's license for one to two years. This is called an "administrative penalty."

"Criminal penalties," those imposed by a court, include the following for a 2nd DUI:

  • A mandatory term in county jail of anywhere from 4 days to 12 months, the length varying based on BAC level and other factors. However, a good lawyer can often get this reduced to community service or changed to "house arrest."

  • A probationary period of 3 to 5 years.

  • Completion of an 18-month DUI class at your own expense.

  • Fines of from $390 to $1,000.

  • Installation, at your own expense, of an ignition interlock device.

  • A one to two year suspension of your California driver's license.

Upon a court-ordered license suspension, you cannot possibly legally drive for 30 days. This period is referred to as a "hard suspension." However, after the 30 days, you might be able to get a restricted license if the DMV allows and you submit your SR-22 insurance form, in which your insurer testifies you have purchased certain required additional insurance coverage (based on having had a DUI). A restricted license allows you to drive only to/from work and your DUI class.

If convicted of DUI or even of a reduced charge of wet reckless, you must attend DUI school. An 18-month class could easily cost you over $1,000, and you must ultimately submit proof of enrollment, attendance, and completion of the class to reclaim your license.

How to Win in Court on a 2nd DUI Charge

In California, your DUI arrest will be made public, and thus, you can expect to be contacted by numerous lawyers seeking to take on your case. However, be careful to pick only the most experienced and successful of DUI lawyers since so much depends on winning your case.

Your lawyer should work diligently to collect all evidence in your favor, challenge all evidence brought against you, including the police report and BAC test results, and if necessary, negotiate for the best possible plea agreement.

It is during the pre-trial process that much of the work will be done. It is then that legal disclosure of information pertinent to the case must be obtained. It is also then that the prosecutor and defense attorney will "test " each other and the strength of each other's cases. A lawyer with a solid reputation and well honed legal/negotiation skills can likely get a better plea than a less experienced defender can.

A skilled lawyer can even sometimes manage to avoid having your case heard by a judge whom he/she believes (based on the judge's past rulings) will be more likely to rule harshly against you.

Additionally, your DUI lawyer will typically advise you to initially, at least, ask for a jury trial, plead "not guilty," and "officially deny" any prior DUIs on your record that the prosecution will try to use against you. The prosecutor must "charge" the prior DUI against you only for the purpose of increasing your sentence should you be convicted of the present DUI. A good defense lawyer can sometimes find ways to "strike" the prior on technical grounds. However, if this cannot be done, you may want to seek a "bifurcated" trial where the prior is only considered (and during a second and separate stage of the trial) if you are convicted of the DUI charge at hand. The reason to ask for this two-part trial is to avoid the jury reaching the assumption your must be guilty of the 2nd DUI simply because you committed the 1st one.

Finally, a good DUI lawyer will attempt to get evidence brought against you disqualified based on the manner in which it was collected. A motion to suppress such evidence can be made a pretrial session, and many cases can hinge on the results of these challenges.

Winning DUI Probation for a 2nd Offense DUI in California

As mentioned above, some jail time at least is virtually unavoidable with a repeat offense DUI conviction. But exactly how much time you spend you spend physically behind bars can vary greatly. Factors that affect this include: how high your BAC level was (barely .08 versus .16 or .20 for example); what the reason was for the traffic stop (speeding 10 over versus, say, a hit and run traffic accident); whether or not you have a good paying job (increases chances of being allowed house arrest); whether your first DUI was within a year of the 2nd; and whether or not the judge perceives in you any remorse or determination to avoid future DUIs.

If DUI Stay Out of Trouble Probation is allowed by the presiding judge, and it is entirely at his or her discretion, you could spend as little as 96 hours in jail, with the 24 hours you likely spent waiting for the arraignment counting as well. Then, you may be able to enter an “alternative sentencing” program like house arrest with electronic monitoring, a residential treatment program, residence at a sober living house, use of a SCRAM ankle bracelet that will periodically test your sweat for alcohol content and report the results to the authorities, and community service hours.

Additionally, those who are approved for DUI probation can often also get their suspension periods shortened if they agree to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle (costing you $500 to $1,500 for installation and ongoing maintenance fees).

2nd DUI While Still on Probation for Your 1st DUI

Both your DMV hearing and possible later court case will be more complex and likely result in stricter punishment if your 2nd DUI occurred while still serving out your probation period for your first DUI offense.

This scenario creates three separate cases to deal with:

  • The probation violation hearing, which takes place in the jurisdiction of the first DUI offense.

  • Your DMV hearing for your 2nd DUI incident.

  • And potentially, your jury trial for your 2nd DUI offense.

This makes it very difficult to avoid some jail time. The probation violation can get you up to 180 days, though 90 days or less is typical and a good DUI lawyer can even help you avoid jail time for the probation violation. The 2nd DUI has the statutory minimum jail time of 96 hours, but when you got your 2nd DUi while still on probation for the first one, you will likely get more than 96 hours. Typically, 60 to 90 days is likely, depending on the local jurisdiction as well as on any mitigating or aggravating factors that may exist. And you will probably have to see your driver’s license go into suspension for a full two years and wait a year before you can apply for a restricted license. A restricted license will allow you to drive to/from DUI class and to/from work within designated “commuting” and “business” hours.

Violating your probation can have many consequences and can be done in many ways, including: failure to pay fines, court fees, and victim restitution, failure to appear at scheduled hearings, not attending your DUI treatment or education classes, not doing your assigned community service, not reporting to your probation officer (for felony level, formal probation), possession of a firearm or “deadly weapon,” removing your GPS device if under house arrest with electronic monitoring, and refusing to submit to a police-ordered BAC chemical test. But getting a 2nd DUI is probably the most serious violation of all. You need all the legal help you can get at your DMV hearing, probation hearing, and trial to preserve your previous probation and get probation again for your 2nd DUI if you can’t defeat the charge outright.

The arguments and evidence your DUI lawyer will present at your DMV hearing will be foundational to any that need to be presented at your trial and will be closely related to the best case you can present at your probation hearing. Hiring the same California DUI lawyer to handle all three aspects of your case is a wise move when you get a 2nd DUI while still on probation for the 1st DUI. It is cheaper and ensures your lawyer understands the full scope of your case.

Contact Us Today

At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have assembled a team of well seasoned DUI defense attorneys who know how to handle even the toughest DUI cases, including when it is not a first-time offense. We have a proven track record of winning second-offense DUI cases, achieving the best possible outcome for our clients.

We know how and when to fight for a dismissal, an acquittal, or a reduced charge and/or sentence. We know how to fight for and obtain DUI probation in place of jail time whenever possible and to the extent it is permitted under California law. We understand how the county or city jurisdiction, the tendencies of particular judges and prosecutors, and local court processes may affect your case.

Don’t rely on a novice attorney or someone without deep experience in DUI defense and needlessly risk your future when the experts at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer are only a quick phone call away.

For a free DUI consultation, don't hesitate to contact us anytime 24/7/365 at 310-848-1376.