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Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

Ranking of Strictest DUI Laws Puts California in the Middle

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Jun 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

If someone is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in California, the driver may be facing up to 6 months in jail, fines of thousands of dollars, a suspended California driver license, DUI school, and may have to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their car. This can be a pretty harsh sentence. But according to a website's analysis of American DUI laws by state, California falls right in the middle when it comes to which state has the strictest penalties for DUI offenses.

The website WalletHub examined 15 factors in state DUI laws to determine, according to their analysis, were the most lenient and harshest for DUI offenses. The factors included: minimum jail time for a first offense; when a DUI is considered a felony; the look-back period; additional penalties for higher BAC; minimum fines; child endangerment penalties; mandatory IIDs; length of administrative license suspension; alcohol abuse assessment and treatment; vehicle impounds; sobriety checkpoints; and insurance rate increases.

Based on their findings, Arizona was ranked as having the strictest DUI laws, which you should keep in mind before a road trip to the Grand Canyon state. Arizona has the longest minimum jail time for first-time DUI offenders, with a minimum 10 day sentence. The minimum sentence for a second DUI is 90 days, and a third offense is considered a felony. At the bottom of the list, the District of Columbia and South Dakota have no minimum sentences for either a first or second DUI. South Dakota does not even have an administrative license suspension after a DUI.

California ranks somewhere in the middle at 31st in terms of strict DUI laws, where a minimum sentence for the first DUI is 2 days, 10 days for a second offense, and it can go up from there. A fourth DUI conviction within in ten years is a felony. Additionally, divers may face anything from a 4-month suspension to a 4-year revocation of their driver license. IIDs are not mandatory in all California counties; only Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento require an IID for first-time DUIs in a pilot program that some legislators want to go statewide. Installation of an IID is required for any subsequent offense, however.

Although the rates of drunk driving have decreased significantly over the past few decades, drunk drivers are still involved in the deaths of almost 10,000 people per year. The nationwide DUI analysis asked a variety of legal experts what were some of the causes for the decline, and the best options to keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Their panel of experts, mostly comprised of professors from universities across the country, cited things like a change in the cultural values that no longer accepts drinking and driving, better car safety, increased arrest rates, and increased sanctions for DUIs as some of the major factors responsible for the decrease in DUI related fatalities. Other suggest that effective policies to further reduce DUI rates include lowering the legal limit to 0.05% BAC, and increasing the enforcement of anti-drunk driving laws.

Even if the study didn't find that California DUI laws were the harshest in the country, a conviction for DUI in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties can still have a significant impact on your life, and cost you thousands in fines, fees and higher insurance costs. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her career to defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay. With over 30 years of DUI and criminal defense experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local DUI laws, and will make sure your rights are protected. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that an arrest does not have to lead to a conviction.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for 30 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.

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