January 2, 2014 By Matthew Wallin

California DUI laws are among the most severe in the nation. Yet, too frequently, drivers convicted of a first DUI face a second DUI conviction. The stakes rise considerably for a subsequent DUI conviction.

If you have been previously convicted of DUI in California, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to warn you that a second DUI conviction carries substantially greater penalties, especially if you signed a document acknowledging that you are aware that you may be prosecuted for murder if you kill someone as a result of a DUI.

The tragic story of former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart tells a particularly chilling tale…

What Happened to Nick Adenhart?

second DUI conviction
California DUI laws are already severe but the stakes rise considerably if you are facing a second DUI conviction.

On April 9, 2009, Nick Adenhart and three other occupants of the car in which he was a passenger were broadsided in Fullerton by convicted drunk driver Andrew Thomas Gallo. When tested, Gallo’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was more than three times the legal limit. Two of the people in the vehicle with Adenhart were killed instantly. Adenhart ultimately died a result of his injuries.

Gallo was on parole at the time for felony DUI. After a two-week jury trial held in September 2010, Gallo was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury, and one felony count of hit-and-run. On December 22, 2010, Gallo was sentenced to 51 years to life in jail.

What are California’s DUI Laws?

Vehicle Code Section 23152 prohibits driving under the influence. It is a crime in California to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or a drug. It is a separate offense to drive a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or greater.

A first offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor. If you have a prior DUI conviction within 10-years, a subsequent DUI is also usually charged as a misdemeanor. However, more than three DUI convictions during the previous 10-years can result in prosecution of a 4th offense as a felony.

Vehicle Code Section 23153 prohibits driving under the influence resulting in injury.

Penal Code Section 191.5 is the crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Additionally, if you have been convicted of a first-time DUI and you signed a document known as a “Watson Advisement” stating that you are aware that you may be prosecuted for murder if you kill someone as a result of a DUI, you will likely be prosecuted for second degree murder (called Watson Murder) and face 150 years to life if you pick up a second DUI.

Sentencing and Punishment for Second DUI Conviction

Under Vehicle Code 23152, if you are convicted of DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction (but without injury), your punishment will likely include the following:

  • 96 hours to up to one year in jail. 90 days is very common, although the possibility for home confinement is available;
  • 3 to 5 years of informal (summary) probation;
  • $390 to a maximum $1,000 fine, plus what is known as a “penalty assessment.” In essence, your fine will actually be about $2,000.
  • A minimum one-year driver’s license suspension by the DMV;
  • Attendance at a “MADD” (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) panel at your own expense;
  • A court ordered 18-month or 30-month alcohol education program (also at your expense).

Additionally, the DMV will assess two points on your driving record which could take up to three years to remove. You will also be required to show proof of an SR-22 insurance filing (designated “high risk” driver) for three years. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) may also be required if you are eligible for a restricted driver’s license.

Sentencing and Punishment for DUI with Injury

Under Vehicle Code Section 23153, a DUI causing injury is a “wobbler” offense – meaning you can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction can result in similar punishment as described above.

A felony conviction may result in up to four years in custody. A consecutive state prison sentence of up to six years for each person seriously injured may be imposed if a DUI results in serious bodily injury. Causing serious bodily injury can also be charged as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.

DUI Causing Death

If you kill someone as a result of driving under the influence, you face prosecution for either gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or second degree murder (commonly referred to as a “Watson murder”).

Orange County Courts that Handle DUI Cases

The following is a list of Orange County Courts which process DUI cases:

Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach

West Justice Center, Westminster

Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

North Justice Court, Fullerton

Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight Your DUI Charge

If you or someone you care about has been charged with driving under the influence, you need to speak to one of our skilled DUI defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. You could be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your offense.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending clients facing DUI-related charges. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich is your best chance to avoid the serious consequences of violating DUI laws such as jail or prison time, heavy fines and loss of your driver’s license.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the very best legal representation. We will do everything we can to help you win your case.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

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