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Lookback Periods for a DUI in California

A “look-back period,” is the amount of time that can pass when a prior criminal conviction would be considered for subsequent criminal charges. The most common lookback period for California drivers involves multiple drunk driving arrests. A DUI will have additional penalties if the driver had a prior DUI within the lookback period. 

The Lookback Period for California DUIs is 10 Years

In California, the court will only look back 10 years to see if there was another DUI offense. Also known as the DUI “washout period,” a priorable offense includes any DUI offense that occurred within 10 years of the latter offense. Prior DUIs also include drunk driving offenses in other states. 

Prior Offenses That Count Towards Multiple DUIs

There is a wide category of criminal offenses that are included when looking at multiple DUIs. For example, a marijuana DUI and an alcohol DUI may involve different criminal charges but both are considered a prior DUI when counting for multiple DUI penalties. 

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23540, there are increased penalties if someone is convicted of a DUI within 10 years of a separate conviction for violation of any of the types of DUI charges

For example, Anthony is a truck driver and convicted of a commercial CDL DUI after a breath test shows a BAC of 0.05%. The next year, Anthony is convicted of a drug DUI after he is found smoking marijuana in the car. The next year, Anthony is driving for Uber and gets a DUI when a passenger reports he is impaired. The year after that, Anthony gets into an accident and is convicted of an injury DUI. Even though Anthony was convicted under 4 separate criminal codes, they are all included in counting prior DUIs. The 4th offense can be treated as a felony as a 4th DUI. 

Is a Wet-Reckless a Prior DUI in California?

A reckless driving conviction will not count as a prior DUI but a “wet reckless” conviction DOES count as a prior DUI in California. A wet reckless is a lesser offense that is treated like reckless driving even though it might have been charged as a regular DUI. A wet reckless is the result of a plea bargain, or agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of facing DUI charges.

Even though it has lesser penalties, a wet reckless under California Vehicle Code 23103.5 is a priorable offense if it occurred within 10 years of another DUI. 

Do Out of State DUIs Count as a Prior DUI?

Generally, the California court can consider a prior out-of-state DUI if it occurred within the last 10 years. An out-of-state DUI may be included if the statute is “substantially similar” to California's DUI statutes. For example, all states consider a BAC of 0.08% or higher to be a per se DUI. If someone is convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in another state, California would likely include the out-of-state DUI. 

However, not all states have the same DUI laws. As of July 2020, Utah lowered the limit for a per se DUI to 0.05% or higher. If a driver got a per se DUI in Utah with a BAC of 0.06%, the driver may be able to have that DUI not included as a prior offense for a later DUI in California. Even though the conviction was a DUI in Utah, it might not have been a crime in California because the statutes are not substantially similar. 

A DUI in another country may also be counted as a prior offense. If you have a prior out-of-state drunk driving conviction, your East Bay DUI defense lawyer may be able to challenge the prior conviction in court to reduce your penalties. 

Lookback Periods in Other States

Each state has its own lookback period. If you get a DUI in another state, that state's lookback period would include any prior DUIs that occurred in the prior timeline. Lookback periods in other states range from 5 years to a lifetime lookback period. Some of the lookback periods include: 

  • Arizona - 7 year look-back period
  • Nevada - 7 year look-back period
  • Utah - 10 year look-back period
  • Oregon - 10 year look-back period
  • Washington - 7 year look-back period
  • Hawaii - 10 year look-back period
  • Texas - Lifetime look-back period
  • Florida - Lifetime look-back period

DUI Defense for Multiple DUIs in the East Bay 

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of DUI defense experience and understands all the most up-to-date changes in DUI laws and science. Representing individuals in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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