top ten questions: from multiple offenders

From Everyone | From Minors/Parents | From Multiple Offenders | From Non-Residents


  1. How old a prior still "counts"?
  2. Will I go to jail?
  3. Is it worse if my prior was recent?
  4. What if my prior DUI conviction wasn't 
    in Mendocino County?
  5. How long will my license be suspended?
  6. When can I get a work license?
  7. Do I have to take DUI classes again?
  8. How much are the fines?
  9. What can I do to minimize damage?
  10. What about commercial licenses?

1. How old a prior still "counts"?

Ten years. Experienced Mendocino County DUI lawyers know that the "priorability," or "look-back" or "washout" period with respect to past DUI convictions (both wet reckless and regular DUI convictions count as prior DUI offenses) used to be 5 years under former California Vehicle Code section 23102. In 1981, penalties were increased and the current Vehicle Code section CVC 23152 was born.

In 1986 the period was extended to 7 years, and in 2005 the current 10-year rule was implemented. Your Ukiah DUI attorney should be able to explain that the period of increased risk exposure is 10 years from date of prior arrest; according to applicable law, courts must calculate DUI priorability from the date of prior DUI arrest to the date of new DUI arrest. The date of a past DUI conviction is not relevant except in date calculations for possible violations of probation.

The best Mendocino DUI lawyers understand that even if a prior offense is beyond the 10-year look-back period (an "out-of-time prior"), preventing a Mendocino County prosecutor from charging a new offense as a multiple DUI case with increased mandatory minimum jail time and longer DUI classes, nevertheless the prosecutor may use the old prior when fashioning the plea offer in the new case, and often demands additional penalties beyond a standard first DUI for a new Mendocino DUI conviction, such as additional jail time, imposition of an ignition interlock breath device for longer than would have been requested, and prohibitions on alcohol use or possession for the duration of probation in the new case. Of course the best Mendocino DUI attorneys will fight or negotiate against such increased penalties whenever weaknesses in the case may be pursued.

Ten-year priorability applies to the DMV as well, so that after ten years, the license suspension period is reduced as though the out-of-time prior never happened. However, Mendocino DUI attorneys often see a prior DUI incident inside ten years count for DMV suspension purposes but not in court, such as an under-age 21 prior offense with very low alcohol levels, or a prior DUI offense dismissed in court but the drivers license was suspended by DMV, or if the Mendocino District Attorney "misses" a prior DUI conviction which the DMV computers separately identify and use in a new DMV case.

DUIs can go in different directions in different cases with very different results. Click on Anatomy of a Mendocino DUI on this site and see the many different directions a Ukiah DUI case can take, some of which result in priorable offenses, and some of which don't for certain purposes. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer about your specific case.

2. Will I go to jail?

Don't convict yourself yet! There are tons of ways to win a DUI case or reduce the charges after arrest. Click on Ten Tips For Fighting a DUI to see a sample listing.

But if no viable defenses are present in a case, usually second offenders can avoid actual time behind bars by arranging for a jail alternative. However, the best Mendocino DUI lawyers know that the District Attorney's office is becoming increasingly insistent on actual jail time (no jail alternatives) when aggravating factors are present such as a violation of probation in a recent prior DUI conviction. It would not be unusual for the Assistant DA to seek actual jail time in most third offense DUI cases.

A careful and sincere demonstration of a multiple offender's commitment to sobriety after arrest, and no more driving, can go a long way to softening both the District Attorney and the court, particularly if alcohol levels are low in the new case, and driving behavior was relatively safe. We nearly universally require our multiple offender clients to attend a minimum of five AA meetings per week plus an additional layer of counseling or outpatient treatment, simply to keep clients out of jail during the case, not to mention mitigating any possible sentencing following the case if there are no viable DUI defenses.

For the third or more offender, day for day residential treatment credits are often an available alternative against any subsequent jail sentence. The services of a local Ukiah attorney following a DUI arrest are nearly always critical with respect to obtaining a bearable resolution if there are no viable defenses in a DUI case. Click here for Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours and look under "Fixing Trigger Problems" to find a more detailed discussion of actions which can be taken now to mitigate initial court concerns as well as the severity of any future jail sentence. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer about your specific case.

3. Is it worse if my prior was recent?

Yes, the best Mendocino DUI lawyers should explain that in most cases, if there are no viable defenses in the current DUI case, then additional hurdles will likely be present as a result of a more recent prior DUI conviction, such as a violation of probation charge in Mendocino County (usually at least an additional 30 days of jail exposure), and possible remand to jail or much tougher conditions of release during the progress of the court case due to heightened Mendocino County court concerns about community safety following a new DUI arrest if the repeat offender is out on bail or "own recognizance."

Tougher conditions may include the Supervised Own Recognizance ("SOR") requirements to check in periodically with a probation officer, random alcohol and drug testing, a "SCRAM" or "CAM" alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet and mandatory AA attendance. Sometimes an experienced local Ukiah DUI lawyer can work to successfully alleviate the court's concerns for community safety and avoid such additional conditions in particular cases. See Fix Trigger Problems for a detailed discussion on this site about pretrial conditions and how you can help your Mendocino County DUI lawyer to avoid the worst case scenario, remand to jail for the duration of the case.

Even if the blood alcohol levels alleged in the current case are below .08%, the Ukiah DMV may act to suspend a driver license for a year (with no possibility of any work or other driving privileges) if a new DUI arrest occurred while the driver was on probation for a prior conviction. However, depending on the nature of the new case, it may still be possible to obtain an ignition interlock restricted license after a relatively short wait period, pursuant to new laws. Consult with a DUI lawyer in Mendocino County about your specific case.

4. What if my prior DUI conviction wasn't in Mendocino County?

Sometimes, prior DUI convictions from other jurisdictions, such as other California counties or other states, may not be properly seen by the Mendocino County courts, and sometimes even by the Ukiah DMV. Although it's not often that the Mendocino County DA misses a prior conviction, and this is not a development good DUI lawyers plan for, nonetheless it can and does happen and the best Mendocino DUI lawyers watch for it and then handle it extremely carefully.

Striking a Prior DUI Conviction. Good Mendocino DUI lawyers understand that if the prior DUI conviction, which is causing a new case to be considered far too severely, was in a different jurisdiction which has different laws than California's specific DUI laws (CVC 23626), then your local Ukiah DUI attorney may be able to cause the prior conviction to be ignored by filing a "Motion to Strike" the prior conviction from consideration. This is particularly true in cases where the prior DUI conviction was in another state where there are additional or differing ways to be convicted of a DUI offense as compared to California, such as "command and control" states, or "impaired to the slightest degree" states. Ask a Mendocino DUI lawyer about these concepts.

Violation of Prior DUI Probation. If a prior conviction was recent and an accused may also be in violation of probation for that prior conviction, but the probation is in another jurisdiction such as Humboldt or Lake County, or even in another state, then it is unlikely that an additional Violation of Probation ("VOP") charge will appear on the Mendocino County complaint following the latest DUI arrest, meaning that jail exposure is less in Ukiah, but a separate VOP case may arise in the other jurisdiction where the prior conviction occurred. Consult with a DUI lawyer in Mendocino County and any other applicable jurisdiction about your specific cases.

5. How long will my license be suspended?

In a typical multiple offender Mendocino DUI case (noncommercial, age 21 or older, alcohol-related, no allegation of injuries or refusal to give a chemical test), with no aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, DMV will suspend a driver license for one year, regardless of what happens in court, and regardless of how many prior DUI convictions exist. In contrast, a Mendocino County court conviction separately results in a license revocation by DMV for two, three or four years, depending on the number of prior convictions.

But, starting with arrests on or after January 1, 2019, the best Mendocino County DUI attorneys know that the the latest laws allow most drivers to avoid a suspension of driving privileges by obtaining an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) breathalyzer restricted license at any local DMV office after accomplishing certain tasks, which are discussed on this site under Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back. From 2010 to 2019, older laws provided that a typical multiple offender could obtain an early IID restricted license after 90 days or six months suspension, following certain tasks, if the case resulted in a second or third DUI conviction, respectively.

See also, Tip #6 in this section for further information about multiple offenders and restricted licenses. For a detailed discussion on this site of the different types of suspensions resulting from the separate DMV and court proceedings, click on Ten Tips For Getting Your License Back. Consult with a Mendocino DUI lawyer about your specific case.

From Everyone | From Minors/Parents | From Multiple Offenders | From Non-Residents



  1. 6. When can I get a work license?
  2. 7. Do I have to take DUI classes again?
  3. 8. How much are the fines?
  4. 9. What can I do to minimize damage?
  5. 10. What about commercial licenses?

6. When can I get a work license?

In a typical second offense Mendocino DUI case (arrest date after 1/1/19, alcohol-related, age 21 or older, no allegation of injury or refusal to give a chemical test), with no aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, the best Ukiah DUI attorneys will explain that most drivers may avoid a suspension of driving privileges by obtaining an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) breathalyzer restricted license at any local DMV office after accomplishing certain tasks, which are discussed on this site under Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back.

If the date of arrest is prior to 1/1/19, then older laws applicable to most second or third offense DUI cases allow for an IID breathalyzer restricted license after 90 days or six months of no driving, respectively (or a work license after one year of no driving in second offense cases), if required tasks are accomplished. If the date of the DUI arrest is prior to 2010, then in most multiple offender cases there is no possibility of restricted driving privileges (regardless of hardship) for at least one year unless the separate DMV case is successfully litigated.

DUI laws and DMV policies and practice change often, so consult with a Mendocino County DUI attorney about your individual circumstances. There are also a large variety of special rules for drug DUIs, injury cases, minors, commercial drivers, out of state residents, etc. Click on Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back on this site for a more detailed discussion about getting your license back in many different situations. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer about your specific case.

7. Do I have to take DUI classes again?

In most cases, a Mendocino County DUI attorney will advise that a Mendocino County DUI conviction with a prior DUI offense within ten years of the current offense results in a court order to enroll in, and complete, the Mendocino County DUI Program 18-month multiple offender weekly classes on South State Street in Ukiah, or in Willits, Fort Bragg, or Laytonville, or at another qualifying California DUI program. CVC 23542(b)(1).

The best Mendocino DUI lawyers know that as of 2009, even if we can reduce a new multiple offense DUI charge to a "second Wet" reckless charge, the new wet reckless conviction typically still requires at least the extended nine-month DUI program classes if there is a prior DUI or wet reckless conviction with an arrest date within 10 years of the new arrest date. CVC 23103.5(e).

Of course, the best way to avoid the pain of these typically less-than-convenient or intelligent nine-month or 18-month DUI programs would be to avoid a new Mendocino DUI or Wet conviction altogether. Consult with a Ukiah DUI lawyer about your specific case.

8. How much are the fines?

Mendocino County DUI attorneys will tell you that the fines for a DUI conviction are typically the same regardless of the number of prior DUI convictions, and are approximately $2600 in most DUI cases.

Of course, the best way to avoid DUI fines is to avoid a DUI conviction, or reduce the charges to a "Wet Reckless" or better; if charges are reduced or dismissed, the fine exposure would be expected to drop sharply (for example, a typical Wet Reckless fine is only one-half of a DUI fine, or around $1250.00).

If a DUI case cannot be dismissed or reduced, then good local Ukiah DUI lawyers always arrange fine payments as little as $50-75 per month for our clients, if paying the full amount would be a hardship to you and your family. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer about financial arrangements and DUI defenses in your specific case.

9. What can I do to minimize damage?

Mendocino County DUI lawyers commonly advise that one of the primary ways to limit the adverse effects of a new multiple offense DUI arrest is to be prepared for the worst outcome, but be ready to fight first for the best possible result, such as dismissal, or striking a prior offense, or reduction of charges. Actively prepare for legal issues which may prevail in the current case, by carefully reviewing discussions on this site under Ten Tips For the First 48 Hours and then Ten Tips For Fighting a DUI.

If no viable defenses are presented, then to reduce the effects of a multiple offense DUI conviction, early consideration may be advised regarding substantial efforts to demonstrate a commitment to sobriety, which are outlined in our Mendocino County DUI Lawyer discussion, "Fix Trigger Problems" under Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI. If a conviction appears to be likely, then review the discussion about "Jail Alternatives" under Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI. Consult with a Ukiah DUI lawyer about your specific case.

10. What about commercial licenses?

A good Ukiah DUI attorney will understand that California commercial license holders are affected by rules tying federal highway grant funds to uniform adoption of harsh federal rules related to commercial suspensions for DUI convictions.

Consequently, commercial license holders (Class A or B licenses, or endorsements) likely face lifetime loss of commercial privileges if convicted of a DUI in Mendocino County court, or suspended for a DUI by Ukiah DMV, or both, if the commercial driver has a prior DUI court conviction or DUI suspension from DMV, and the date of arrest for the prior DUI was after September 20, 2005. Vehicle Code Section 15302.

The best way to avoid this result is to beat the current DUI case by winning the case outright in Mendocino County court or successfully reducing the charges to a Wet Reckless or lower, and also winning the separate DMV case. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer about your specific case.