Driving Under the Influence FAQ

Answers from our Sacramento DUI Lawyer

Our experienced Sacramento County DUI attorneys answer clients’ most common questions related to DUI laws and penalties. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, contact The Chastaine Law Office at (916) 890-0654 for skilled representation backed by more than 32 years of experience! For more information about DUI, visit our DUI Defense page!

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What is the punishment for DUI?

The minimum punishment for a first time DUI is:

  • 3 years summary probation
  • 2 days county jail
  • 3, 6 or 9 months DUI program
  • Court fines and fees
  • Six-month license suspension
  • Other standard conditions of probation:
  • May not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  • Shall not refuse to take a breath or blood test
  • Must obey all laws
  • Ignition Interlock Device

The minimum punishment for second DUI is:

  • 3-5-year summary probation
  • 10 days county jail
  • 18-month Multiple Offender DUI Program
  • Court fines
  • 2-year license suspension
  • Ignition Interlock Device

Other standard conditions of probation:

  • May not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  • Shall not refuse to take a breath or blood test
  • Must obey all laws

The minimum punishment for third DUI is:

  • 3-5 years’ summary probation (typically 5)
  • 120 days county jail
  • 18-month Multiple Offender DUI Program
  • Court fines
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • 3-year license suspension

Other standard conditions of probation:

  • May not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  • Shall not refuse to take a breath or blood test
  • Obey all laws

Fourth and Subsequent DUIs

  • Can be charged with misdemeanor or felony
  • Comes with 180-day minimum jail sentence
  • If charged with a felony, state prison sentence of 16, 24 or 36 months

What factors can affect a DUI sentence?

There are several enhancements for DUI cases that typically lead to the District Attorney asking for additional jail time, including:

  • High Blood Alcohol (0.15 and greater)
  • Having a minor under the age 14 in the car. VC 23572
  • Driving recklessly (as defined by VC 23103) AND speeding more than 30 MPH (on the freeway) or 20 MPH (on surface streets) over the speed limit. VC 23582.
  • Refusal to take a chemical test. VC 23612.

How long will my license be suspended?

DUI suspensions come in two flavors. One is an administrative suspension directly from DMV, also known as an APS suspension, and the other is a criminal conviction suspension ordered by the court.

  • An APS suspension by DMV for a first time DUI lasts for four months (VC 13353.2).
  • The APS suspension for a second or third DUI is for one year (13353.3)
  • If you are convicted in a criminal court of a first DUI, then this initial four-month suspension becomes a six-month suspension ( VC13352).
  • If you are convicted of a second DUI, the court imposed suspension is for 2 years. (VC 13352(a)(2))
  • If you are convicted of a third DUI, the court imposed suspension is for 3 years. (VC 13352(a)(5)).
  • Any time your license is suspended pursuant to an APS suspension will count toward any suspension ordered by the court after a conviction (VC 13353.2(c)).
  • Under-Age Drivers will have their license suspended for one year for the first time DUI and will not be eligible for a restricted license.

How do I get a restricted license?

When you are arrested for DUI with a BAC at or over 0.08, the arresting agency will send a report to DMV. Unless you request an APS hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest, the DMV will suspend your license starting 30 days after your arrest. You can, however, usually get a restricted license.

A restricted license will allow you to drive to/from work and to/from your DUI classes. There are special exemptions for allowing people to drive to/from medical appointments, but those exemptions are tough to come by. If you get an Ignition Interlock Device installed, which is required in Sacramento County, then your driving privileges are unlimited. You will not be restricted to driving to/from work

Getting a restricted license before you’ve been convicted requires the following:

  • An SR22. This is a form your car insurance company sends to DMV
  • Enrollment in a DUI program
  • Reissue fee of $125.
  • Serve a period of suspension:
  • 30 days for a first DUI
  • 90 days for a second DUI that did not involve the use of drugs
  • 180 days for a third DUI that did not involve the use of drugs
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device. A first time DUI in Sacramento County requires the installation of IID for 5 months. All second/third DUIs require an IID.

Under age 21 drivers face a one-year suspension and will not be eligible for a restricted license.

Commercial driver license holders must downgrade to a non-commercial drivers’ license.

Can I avoid a license suspension?

Avoiding a license suspension entirely is very challenging. The war for your license is fought on two fronts. The first front is against the DMV directly and the second is against the court. The DMV suspends licenses starting 30 days after an arrest for driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more. The only way to avoid this suspension entirely is to schedule and win an APS hearing. But, that’s only half the battle.

Even if you are successful at an APS hearing, you must win your court case to avoid the court-imposed suspension that comes with a guilty plea.

Are there ways to fight a DUI?

There are many ways to successfully challenge a DUI, including but not limited to:

  • Equipment malfunctioning or improperly maintained
  • Officer lacked probable cause to stop your car
  • “Rising Blood Alcohol” can mean your system was below 0.08 at the time of driving even though it was over 0.08 when you did the chemical test
  • There was no volitional movement of the car
  • Medical conditions caused a falsely high BAC on the breath test
  • Improper storage of your blood sample
  • Alternative explanations for your poor performance on the Field Sobriety Tests
  • You weren’t the driver
  • Officer’s failure to read Miranda Rights

The facts of your individual case determine whether there is a viable defense, but even if you don’t see a way out, our Sacramento County DUI lawyers might.

What is a “Wet Reckless”?

A “Wet Reckless” is a type of plea agreement that states alcohol was involved but the defendant did not meet the standard for a DUI. District Attorneys will sometimes offer a wet/reckless when the blood alcohol content is close to the legal limit (e.g. 0.08/0.09) or when the DUI case has evidence problems.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and when is one required?

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer device professionally installed into a passenger vehicle. The IID is wired into the ignition and requires the driver to submit a sober breath sample before the engine will start. During the trip, the driver must periodically blow breath samples. If alcohol is detected during the trip, the engine will stop.

IIDs are required for all second and third and subsequent DUIs. There are currently four counties participating in a pilot program that requires an IID for a first DUI. The four counties are Alameda, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Tulare.

The only way around the IID requirement is to request an exemption. An exemption requires the individual to certify under penalty of perjury that they:

  • Currently do not have access to or own a vehicle at their residence.
  • Acknowledge they are only permitted to drive a vehicle with an IID installed.
  • Must have a valid drivers’ license before driving and are immediately subject to IID installation once they gain access to a vehicle.

How long do you have to have an ignition interlock device?

  • For a first DUI, the IID must be installed for 5 months.
  • For a second DUI, the IID must be installed for 12 months
  • On a third DUI, the IID must be installed for 24 months.

The driver must pay for installation and a monthly fee while the IID is installed.

What are DUI classes?

DUI classes are required as part of a plea to a DUI and to qualify for a restricted license. Classes are either 3, 6, 9 or 18 months. The 3, 6, and 9-month classes are for first offenders. The 18-month program is for individuals with prior DUI convictions.

For first time offenders, your BAC determines the length of the program:

  • 08 – 0.14 3 Month Class
  • 15 – 0.19 6 Month Class
  • .020 and Up 9 Month Class

Am I going to have to go to jail?

For first-time DUIs, the chances of spending another night in jail is slim. All DUIs come with a minimum number of days in jail that must be served as a condition of probation. Fortunately, most people rarely must serve their sentence behind bars. Most counties allow for alternative sentencing for misdemeanor cases.

Virtually every county allows for Alternative Sentencing for misdemeanor cases. Alternative sentencing means you serve your “jail time” doing some form of community service, work project or ankle monitoring.

Second and third DUIs with longer sentences may be required to serve the time in custody.

What is alternative sentencing?

Alternative sentencing programs allow for qualifying inmates to serve their sentences by participating in community work projects or from home using electronically monitored devices. Programs like this have allowed low-risk inmates to serve their commitments in a more humane, less disruptive manner since March 1979.

Alternative incarceration permits inmates the ability to maintain family relationships and employment. In turn, the local communities benefit from their labor which helps schools, churches, parks and other non-profit organizations. Finally, alternative sentencing is also a benefit to the county. By housing low-risk inmates in their own homes, the county can reduce their overall jail population and costs. Speak to our Sacramento County DUI attorneys today to find out if you qualify for alternative sentencing.

What is an APS hearing?

When someone is arrested for DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or more, the arresting agency will generate a report that is sent to DMV. Based on that report the DMV will automatically suspend the license. That suspension is called an Administrative Per Se (APS) suspension.

A driver has 10 calendar days to request a hearing to challenge the suspension. If the driver does not request a hearing, then the suspension will begin 30 days after the arrest date. In the wake of a DUI, many people are unsure of what to do next and often miss their 10-day window. At The Chastaine Law Office, our experienced Sacramento County DUI lawyers can organize everything for you. We can ensure your APS hearing has the best outcome possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What happens at the hearing?

The DMV asks two questions at the hearing:

  1. Did the officer have probable cause to stop the driver?
  2. Was the driver’s BAC over 0.08%?

If there are facts in your case that support challenging the stop or challenging the validity of the chemical test, then an APS hearing is key to preventing an unwarranted suspension of your license.

The standard of proof at an APS hearing is much lower than in a criminal case. Therefore it can be difficult to challenge an APS suspension successfully. There are other advantages to scheduling an APS hearing.

Scheduling a hearing allows you, or your attorney, to exert some level of control over when the suspension will start. The extra time to plan for the license suspension can soften the blow of the suspension. Scheduling a hearing also gives your attorney early access to the police reports and any video evidence. This can be useful in resolving your criminal case in the most favorable way possible.