If you have previously been convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses in the past, you may not be surprised when you get stopped for another suspected driving under the influence (DUI) offense.
However, if this is your fifth DUI, the consequences you could be facing are far more severe than your previous DUI convictions. Here is more about what you can expect if you are found guilty of a fifth DUI and the steps you can take to protect your driver’s license and your future.
Your Priorable Offenses Matter
It is important to defend yourself when you have been charged with a DUI. Even if you are under the impression that a fifth-time DUI is not a serious matter, think again.
All DUI convictions are considered priorable offenses in the state of California. This means that every priorable offense you receive within ten years will have an impact on your current sentencing if you are found guilty. Although a first-time DUI may not land you in prison for long or have high fines, when you receive subsequent DUIs over the years or are charged with other types of criminal offenses, you can expect harsher penalties each time.
Some of the different types of priorable offenses that could have an impact on the sentence you receive if you are found guilty of a 5th DUI include:
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of over .08% under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)
- Driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code §23152(a)
- Reckless driving under California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5
- Causing severe bodily injury or death while drunk driving under California Vehicle Code Section 23153
What if You Were Convicted in a Different State?
You may also be at risk for harsher penalties if you have previously been convicted of other types of priorable offenses, including DUIs, in other states. You can also be sentenced more severely if you are convicted of a felony DUI.
As a side note, if you have previously had a DUI conviction expunged from your record, it will still matter and be considered a priorable offense when it comes time to determine your sentence if you face additional DUI convictions in the future.
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The Criminal Penalties of a 5th-Time DUI Conviction
If you are convicted of a DUI for the fifth time, you can expect to face some of the most severe penalties concerning a DUI offense. A fifth-time DUI will be considered a felony. You cannot be charged with a fifth misdemeanor DUI.
If you are found guilty of a fifth-time DUI, you can expect a variety of criminal penalties, including:
- Mandatory completion of DUI school
- A maximum of three years in a California state prison
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Completion of a court-ordered alcohol treatment program for a minimum of 30 months
- Being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender
- Revocation of your driver’s license for up to four years
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) at your own expense when you get your license back
- Being placed on formal or informal probation, which carries its own consequences and stipulations
What Are Aggravating Factors and How Do They Impact a 5th DUI?
However, the penalties against you could be significantly worse if there are aggravating factors present. Aggravating factors will enhance your sentence upon conviction. Examples of aggravating factors could include:
- Having a BAC level of .15% or more
- Causing an accident while drunk driving
- Drunk driving while on probation for a DUI
- Drinking and driving underage
- Reckless driving and speeding
- Failure to submit to chemical BAC testing
- Having a minor child (under 14 years old) in the vehicle while drunk driving
The Collateral Consequences Are Equally as Impactful
It is not only the criminal penalties of a fifth DUI that will impact you if you are convicted. Your entire life will be haunted by a fifth DUI. You will lose your driving privileges for a significant period of time which may make it difficult or impossible for you to find or keep a job, get to work every day, earn a living, and provide for yourself and your family.
When potential employers, landlords, or anyone else runs a background check, they will see that you have been convicted of five DUIs. If this happens, they are less likely to approve your application or be willing to work with you.
Your reputation will be ruined. If you hope to avoid potential issues with citizenship or immigration if you are a foreign national, it is critical that you defend yourself against these allegations. A conviction could put you in hot water with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
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How to Defend Yourself Against a Fifth DUI
If you are hoping to defend yourself when you have been charged with a DUI for the fifth time, it is essential to remember that you will likely not be eligible for a pretrial diversion program.
This means you will need to present a defense strategy at trial as opposed to being offered a plea agreement. Some of the potential defenses that you may be able to use to challenge a 5th DUI include:
- Medical issues
- False breathalyzer test results
- Lack of probable cause
- Unlawful stop
- Contaminated chemical blood alcohol test samples
- Unreliable, non-standard field sobriety tests were used
- There were other instances of police misconduct or procedural errors
- Your constitutional rights were violated
If you are hoping to avoid the severe penalties associated with a fifth DUI conviction, clearing your name of the allegations against you is essential. Your attorney will need to introduce valuable evidence that introduces reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and the jury so you can get the charges against you reduced, dismissed, or obtain an acquittal.
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Contact a California DUI Lawyer for Help Today
A fifth-time DUI could be devastating for you personally and professionally. It is important to take these accusations seriously and defend yourself in every way possible.
Reach out to a California DUI lawyer at the Simmrin Law Group to figure out how you can best challenge the DUI allegations against you. Fill out our secured contact form or call our office to schedule your confidential case review today.