DUI Convictions From Out of State

  • May 25, 2017

    If you’re facing drunk driving charges in the State of California, you might wonder how an out of state conviction can affect your case. If you have prior convictions from any state, you can face more serious charges when you’re charged with drunk driving. Your charges can even change from a misdemeanor to a felony if you have prior convictions.

    In California a first offense drunk driving is a misdemeanor. The maximum penalties are up to six months in the county jail and a fine of $1000. If you have a second offense, you must spend a minimum of 96 hours in jail and you may spend up to one year in jail. A third offense drunk driving charge brings a minimum of 120 days in jail and a maximum of up to one year in jail. It doesn’t matter if the prior drunk driving offense occurred in California or in another state. The enhancements to the charges are the same.

    However, it’s up to the state to prove that you have the prior conviction. You don’t have to volunteer information to the state about your prior convictions. Rather, the state has to find and charge the enhancements because of prior convictions.

    The state is going to have an easier time finding your prior convictions if they occur in California. Practically, this means you might get a break. However, if the state’s attorney knows about the prior convictions, they can lawfully charge you with the enhancements.

    To prove the prior conviction, the state’s attorney has to present evidence. They can’t just tell the judge that the prior conviction exists unless you agree. They might have to get a certified copy of the conviction or arrange for you to admit the prior offenses as part of a plea deal.

    Even if a prior conviction doesn’t count against you to enhance the charges, it might weigh against you when it comes to negotiating a plea offer with the prosecuting attorney. If a prosecutor knows about prior convictions, they may not be as willing to extend a plea offer to you. Your Los Angeles DUI attorney can help you handle plea negotiations with the state’s attorney.

    The judge might also take your prior offenses into account when they sentence you. A judge is going to be more concerned with your drunk driving if you have prior offenses than if it’s your first charge. Judges want to know that you’ve learned a lesson from your prior convictions. If you’re back in court, they might think that you need more punishment or court-ordered treatment to make sure that you don’t get another charge.

    Typically, the longer the distance between the prior conviction and the new offense, the more forgiving the court is going to be about the new offense. Courts often use a ten year period to look back for prior offenses for sentencing. There’s also the added challenge of deciding what the equivalent offense is in another state.

    Some states have charges that are related to drinking and driving that are lower than drunk driving. Some of these offenses include impaired driving and a minor driving with a blood alcohol content. Your drunk driving attorney should conduct a thorough review to see if the state has properly determined what counts and what doesn’t as a prior offense. Your attorney’s experience and careful research can often mean that the state can’t use enhancements that they’ve alleged against you. If you’re facing DUI charges in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, work with an attorney to carefully assert your rights and defend yourself against the charges.

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