As Halloween draws closer and closer, it’s important to remember that driving recklessly or driving under the influence (“DUI”) can land you in jail.

Halloween and DUI Press Release from the CHP

In a recent press release from the California Highway Patrol reminds us that:

Halloween is often recognized as a holiday that offers just as much fun for adults as it does for children. Youngsters may look forward to a night of trick-or-treating, but many adults choose to partake in the festivities, too – oftentimes with alcohol included. While Halloween may be a spooky night, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) want to help ensure that it is also a safe one. If you plan on making alcohol a part of your celebrations this year, designating a sober driver or finding a safe ride home should be a top priority.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs always presents serious, life-threatening risks, but even more so on a night when pedestrians and children are out trick-or-treating,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “By taking just a few extra minutes to designate a sober driver, you will not only avoid the serious risk and costs associated with a DUI, but you will also help protect your own life and the lives of those around you.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2009 and 2013, 43 percent of all traffic fatalities on Halloween night involved an impaired driver. In 2013 alone, 26 percent of all pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved an impaired driver.

“With Halloween falling on a weekend this year, we expect an increase in celebrations,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “With a few simple precautions, you should be able to enjoy the fun and get home safely. Drive sober, avoid distractions behind the wheel, and be especially alert around pedestrians.”

Whether out trick-or-treating for the night or heading to a party, it is equally important for adults and children to take necessary safety precautions. For those walking door-to-door, consider using light producing or reflective devices to remain visible to cars. Only cross the street at crosswalks or corners and only when it is safe to do so. Costumes should be kept short enough to avoid tripping, and masks should be lifted or removed while on or crossing a street.

Drivers need to pay extra attention to pedestrians – especially small children – as they may be unaware of their surroundings and trick-or-treaters can appear out of nowhere. Party hosts need to be ready with non-alcoholic drinks, food, and the responsibility to make sure their guests get home safely.

Drunk Driving Charges

Drunk driving charges are serious and carry serious consequences not just on Halloween night, but every night. While penalties will vary from case to case, here is a break-down of the sentencing guidelines and what you face if you are convicted of driving under the influence.

First DUI Conviction

For a first DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 96 hours and no more than 6 months.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • Suspension of driver’s license for six months. A court may grant a temporary restricted license. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • Depending on the circumstances of DUI, a first time DUI offender may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a second DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 90 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 1 year. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • Depending on the circumstances of DUI, a first time DUI offender may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a third DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 120 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • An offender will be considered a “habitual traffic offender” by the state for 3 years following the conviction.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 2 years. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • An offender might be able to apply for a restricted driver’s license, but installation of an Ignition Interlock Device may be required.This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a fourth DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time, prison or both, for no less than 180 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • An offender will be considered a “habitual traffic offender” by the state for 3 years following the conviction.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 3 years. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • An offender might be able to apply for a restricted driver’s license, but installation of an Ignition Interlock Device may be required. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

If you are arrested and convicted of a DUI in California, a judge will typically apply a set of minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines. A judge will also weigh the specifics of your case in addition to previous convictions.

Illegal in California

It’s important to remember that while driving in California, the following is illegal:

  • Drivers under 21 are not allowed to transport or carry unsealed beer, wine,or liquor in their vehicle when they are driving alone. Exceptions can be made for work-related driving.
  • Drivers under 21 are not allowed to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .01 or higher.
  • Drivers under 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup, and prescription drugs.
  • Any driver, regardless of age,is not allowed to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. This is a standard BAC measurement used by all states to establish that a driver is impaired.
  • The driver of any vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license may not drive with with a BAC of .04 percent or higher.
  • A driver under 18 is not allowed to drive with ANY measurable blood alcohol concentration.
  • Repeat offenders are not allowed to drive with a BAC of .01 or greater.

These drunk driving laws are similar to many other DUI laws across the United States.

Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a DUI conviction, you’ll want to work with a criminal defense lawyer that handles DUI cases. Once you and your attorney have discussed the specifics of the allegations you are facing, you will be informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, including the risks of conviction and punishment that you face. A defense attorney will be able to negotiate a plea deal or decide to move forward with a trial, while constantly working to ensure your best interests.

The criminal defense lawyers at Daniel Perlman Law in Los Angeles will put our experience to work for you. We believe every defendant has the right to a zealous defense. We offer free initial consultations and will usually quote a flat fee that will cover all the services necessary for your case, including trial. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers, call 877-887-4541 or contact us by e-mail.

Daniel R. Perlman, Esq.
Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman