Over Thanksgiving weekend, the California Highway Patrol arrested 1,057 for DUIs, compared to 902 in 2016 and that uptick in numbers continued into and through the holiday season.

The CHP Handed Out DUIs for the Holidays

During the 2017 holiday season, CHP arrests for driving under the influence spiked dramatically compared to 2016.

Across the state the CHP arrested 936 people for driving under the influence between the evening of Dec. 29 and Jan. 1. In 2016, that number was 767, marking a 22% increase in DUI incidents.

“Anytime you see a rise it’s concerning, especially when we look at fatalities because that’s somebody’s loved one,” said CHP Officer John Fransen. “But the sheer number of arrests that are made, to see roughly 1,000 people arrested in every single maximum enforcement period, it’s disheartening.”

It’s unclear what caused the uptick and many of the arrests are still being investigated.
“I would just be guessing” why there was an increase, Fransen said. “It’s not necessarily that there are more officers, because anytime there’s a maximum enforcement period, any available officers are on the road. It could be that more people are choosing to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and think that they can drive after they’ve had a few too many drinks.” Until all investigations are completed it’s unclear how many of the arrests were made for alcohol impairment versus illegal substance impairment.

As we move into 2018, and as marijuana becomes legal across the state, the CHP and the California Office of Traffic Safety are looking to make people even more aware of the dangers of driving under the influence. After looking at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics from 2005 to 2015, it’s clear why the organizations are concerned. During that time period, the percentage of drivers involved in fatal collisions who had an impairing drug other than alcohol in their system increased from 26.2 percent to 42.6 percent.

“I think our biggest concern as we look at the statistics on other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, it seems like there’s a sharp increase in DUI-related traffic collisions and fatalities,” Fransen said. “We’re concerned because obviously we don’t want to see California follow that strong trend.”

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