Sentencing and Probation

There are three factors that enhance the seriousness of a DUI charge: They are driving, intoxication, and a prior record. Concerning the “driving” factor, increased penalties in your case arise from being involved in an accident if there are injuries (can result in felony filing) and/or if you are speeding (more than 20 mph on a street or more than 30 mph on a freeway over the speed limit, exceeding 100 mph, driving on the wrong side of the road, and/or driving with children in the car). The higher the reading of intoxication, the more serious the offense becomes. If your blood alcohol is “twice the legal limit of .08 percent” (a reading of .16 percent) or a reading of .20 percent or higher, the Court may impose an enhanced sentence; this can include an increased program length from three to six months, public works service, and in rare cases, possibly County Jail time, etc. If you face a second driving under the influence charge,the penalty can be much worse than a first offense. A third DUI charge is much worse than a second one. A fourth within 10 years is usually a felony. Whether probation on the prior DWI offense is still in effect is a factor. Older prior cases (regardless of the location) can often carry less jail time than recent ones in San Diego County.

The DMV generally seeks to take your driver’s license away for four months on a first offense, one year for a second offense, and three years for a third offense. At the time of your arrest, the officer will take your driver’s license away and you will receive a temporary license, valid for only 30 days. If you fail to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your D arrest, there is an automatic four-month suspension.

We are also aware of the consequences of a conviction as it relates to employment, the military, current and future professional career options. Because we also practice in the areas of employment law and administrative law, we seek to inform our clients as to the effect of a conviction on their current employment, future applications they submit to employers, background investigations, access by government agencies to arrests, and professional licensing by state agencies, including the Board of Registered Nursing, Medical Board, Department of Real Estate, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Behavioral Science, Board of Psychology, Board of Optometry, Board of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Insurance, and all of the other state Boards and Bureaus as well.


Punishment for drunk driving has become increasingly severe in the past five-plus years. In earlier years, defendants convicted of drunk driving or  DWI often faced lighter sentences if they had not injured anyone or destroyed any property. However, at this point in time, the current laws typically provide for significant jail time and large fines. Depending upon the location of the San Diego Superior Court (North County, East County, South County and Downtown) and particular judge, sentences do in fact vary. First-time offenders may be given a “break,” such as a suspended sentence conditioned on treatment for substance abuse or attendance in an alcohol education program. The penalty for second or subsequent offenses, however, often includes mandatory minimum jail or prison sentences that cannot be suspended or waived, and large fines. The punishment also usually includes revocation of driving privileges for a certain period of time. Please note the most severe restrictions on a defendant’s driving privileges usually come from the DMV hearing, which is not considered a part of the criminal sentence. In fact, those cases in which a defendant attempted to argue that a suspension or revocation of his or her driver’s licenses by the DMV in addition to the criminal sentence is double punishment that is barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution have not been successful.

Consequences of DUI Charges

  • San Diego County Jail or state prison incarceration
  • A permanent criminal record
  • Significant fines for your conviction
  • Probation or Parole
  • Mandatory AA classes and counseling
  • Losing your right to own a deadly weapon
  • Unable to obtain and/or difficulty with employment for your offense
  • Lifetime revocation of your California Driver’s License for your DUI charges
  • Being subject to denial of a State Board license or having your professional license suspended or revoked (see – Professional Licensing)