What Factors Impact Sentences?

There are three factors that can affect a DUI sentence. Your driving, level of intoxication and prior criminal record can enhance the severity of a DUI case: As to the “driving” factor, there can be an increased penalty if you were involved in an accident and there were injuries, and this can result in a felony DUI charge. Other examples include the situation in which a driver was speeding in excess of 20 mph of the speed limit on a street or in excess of 30 mph over the speed limit on a freeway; exceeding 100 mph, driving on the wrong side of the road, and/or driving with a child in the car will also result in greater charges and a more severe penalty for a DUI. .

Clearly, a higher the reading of intoxication (BA), the more serious the offense will be. The Superior Court will be inclined to impose an enhanced sentence if your blood alcohol is “twice the legal limit of .08 percent” (a reading of .16 percent), and the likelihood becomes even greater in the case of a reading of .20 percent or higher. For example, the Court may impose an increased length of time on a program from three to six months, public works service, and in some cases, possibly even a greater County Jail time. If you face a second driving under the influence charge, the sentence can be much worse than a first offense, and a third DUI is much worse than a second one. If this is a fourth DUI within 10 years it will likely be charged as a felony. If you are still on probation from a prior DUI, you may be charged with a Violation of Probation as well as an enhanced penalty. On the other hand, if you have prior cases in another location, the jail time may be lower than if you had a prior criminal case in San Diego.

What are the Sentences?

As noted in other sections in the discussion of DUI charges, the DMV will generally order a four month suspension of your driver’s license on a first offense, one year for a second offense and three years for your third DUI. At the time of your arrest, the police or sheriff will take your driver’s license away and provide a temporary license that is valid for only 30 days. The instructions you will receive state you must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest or there will be an automatic four-month suspension of your driver’s license.


Punishment for a drunk driving conviction has become increasingly severe due to many factors including the pressure from the public and MADD on the prosecution as well as the Court. The sentences will vary depending upon the San Diego Superior Court judge as well as the location of the court (North County, East County, South County and Downtown). At Spital & Associates, we will fight to obtain a lesser or a suspended sentence if this is your first DUI by requesting an alcohol treatment and alcohol education program. However, the sentence for a  second, third or fourth DUI can include much larger fines and a mandatory minimum jail sentence that cannot be suspended or waived. The punishment can also include a revocation of your driving privileges.

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. While some lawyers have tried to argue a DMV suspension or revocation of one’s driver’s licenses coupled with the criminal sentence is double punishment they have not been successful in their claim this is barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution.

At Spital & Associates, we are also aware of the consequences of a driving under the influence conviction in one’s current and future employment, the military, and one’s current and future options as it relates to a California professional and occupational license. Since we also practice in the areas of employment law and administrative law, we will inform you of the impact of a DUI conviction on an entire range of issues including your current employment; applications your may submit to future employers; the scope of background investigations; the access government agencies have to arrest records; and, professional and occupational license agencies such as the Board of Registered Nursing, Medical Board, Board of Psychology, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Behavioral Science,  Board of Optometry, Board of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Real Estate and Department of Insurance.

Summary of the Consequences of a DUI Conviction

  • San Diego County Jail or state prison incarceration
  • A permanent FBI and Calif9ornia criminal record (even if conviction is later expunged)
  • Significant fines
  • Probation or Parole
  • Mandatory AA classes and alcohol counseling
  • Losing your right to own a deadly weapon
  • Inability &/or difficulty to obtain employment
  • Possible lifetime revocation of your California Driver’s License
  • Being subject to the denial of a State Board license or the suspension or revocation of a professional license (see https://www.spitalaw.com/ – Professional Licensing)
To obtain a free telephone consultation with our Managing Attorney, send us an email or call Sam at 619.583.0350 seven days a week from 7:00am to 9:00pm.

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San Diego, CA 92108-1642
Telephone: 619.583.0350
Fax: 619-583-1850

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.