Both driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving are serious criminal charges in California. Many drivers wonder which of these charges is worse. Generally, DUI charges are considered more severe than charges for reckless driving.
You may review the penalties for both a DUI and reckless driving conviction right here. Find out why DUI charges are so serious by reading this article. Consider your legal options to handle both DUI and reckless driving charges.
DUI Charges are Worse than Reckless Driving Charges
Generally, the court system in California treats DUI charges very seriously. You may face DUI charges if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit in California. Drivers must keep their BAC under:
- 0.08% if they are non-commercial drivers over 21.
- 0.04% if they are commercial drivers over 21.
- 0.01% if they are under 21.
DUI charges are often considered more serious because they are priorable. A priorable charge remains on your record. These charges count against you if you are convicted of another DUI in California. Each time you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties you face will increase.
Examples of the Penalties for a DUI Conviction
A first-time conviction for a “simple” DUI may result in fines and up to six months of jail time. You may also need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to six months after your conviction. Finally, the court may order you to attend DUI school for up to nine months. These are only the penalties for a first DUI. Additional DUIs could result in:
Penalties for a Second Simple DUI
- Up to one year of jail time
- Use of an IID for up to one year
- Up to 30 months of time in DUI school
Penalties for a Third Simple DUI
- Up to one year of jail time
- Use of an IID for up to two years
- Up to 30 months in DUI school
Felony Penalties for a DUI in California
DUI charges are also more serious because they could lead to felony accusations. Felony charges are always more serious than misdemeanor charges. You may face felony charges for a DUI if:
- You have three or more previous misdemeanor DUI convictions
- You have one or more previous felony DUI convictions
- You struck and injured someone else while driving under the influence
- You struck and killed someone else while driving under the influence
A felony conviction could result in prison time in California. The prison system is considered harsher than the jail system in the state. You do not face prison time for a misdemeanor charge. Additionally, the fines for a felony are much higher.
You could end up facing life in prison if you are convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter or DUI second degree murder. Make sure you get professional help handling any DUI charge. Call (310) 929-6503 to speak with a member of a legal team now.
The Penalties for Reckless Driving Are Lower
Reckless driving is a criminal charge in California. However, reckless driving is less serious than a DUI. Reckless driving may lead to fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 90 days. As you can see, this is much less severe than the penalties for a DUI conviction.
In fact, reckless driving charges are often offered as part of a plea bargain for a DUI. Plea bargains require you to admit guilt for a less serious charge. In exchange for accepting a less serious charge, you are given reduced penalties by the court.
“Wet” reckless charges are used specifically with DUI plea bargains in California. However, wet reckless charges are also priorable. This means they count as a DUI on your record. Your lawyer may instead work to bring you “dry” reckless charges (not involving alcohol) as part of a plea bargain.
Additionally, your lawyer may defend you from either reckless driving or DUI charges in California and you may be found not guilty. You do not face penalties if you are found not guilty by a jury of your peers.
Compare DUI and Reckless Driving Charges with a Lawyer
DUI charges are worse than reckless driving charges in California. DUI convictions lead to harsher penalties. You may even accept reckless driving charges as part of a DUI plea bargain. Find out more about both of these charges with the Simmrin Law Group. Contact us now to get a free consultation.
You may reach us by calling (310) 929-6503. You also have the option to complete our online contact form.