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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

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5th Time DUI in California

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023

How Many DUIs Are Too Many in California?

In California, there are no boundaries to the number of DUIs a person can get. However, the fifth DUI within ten years is a different story. It could lead to a felony DUI charge and much harsher penalties than for a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction.

Understandably, it’s crucial to know your legal rights and the options available to defend against a fifth-time DUI offense. DUI penalties could have devastating impacts on your life, both immediate and long-term. To answer frequently asked questions about DUI fifth offenses in California, our expert DUI defense lawyer provides the following information.

How Do Judges Determine the Sentence for a Fifth-Time DUI Conviction?

In California, DUI convictions are “priorable” offenses. Each DUI conviction within ten years counts towards the current DUI charge’s sentencing, whether the charges are the same or related. Here are some drunk driving charges that fall under “priorable” charges for sentencing:

Driving under the influence of alcohol (California Vehicle Code §23152a)
Reckless driving under California Vehicle Code §23103.5 (“wet reckless” plea agreement)
Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .08% (California Vehicle Code §23152b)
Causing bodily injury or death while driving under the influence of alcohol (California Vehicle Code §23153)
Any out-of-state convictions that would be a violation of any of the priorable California DUI laws
If you have a felony DUI conviction, there’s no time limit for prior convictions’ use for sentencing purposes. Even expunged drunk driving convictions count toward the number of DUI convictions for sentencing purposes.

Fighting a fifth-time DUI arrest on your own could be dangerous. Your prior DUIs already put you at a disadvantage before entering the courtroom. Speaking with a DUI lawyer on ways to avoid a DUI conviction or pleading down the charges is a wiser choice.

What Are the Penalties for a Fifth DUI Conviction in California?

A fifth DUI conviction is severe because it’s a felony charge, and judges view multiple DUI offenses harshly. Here are the penalties you may face:

Up to three years in state prison
A fine of $390-1000 plus penalty assessments
Treatment in a court-approved alcohol treatment program for 30 months
Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender
Loss of driving privileges for four years
Completion of DUI school
Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
Informal or formal probation
The sentence for a fifth-time DUI offense depends on several factors, such as the case’s facts, the driver’s BAC level, and aggravating circumstances. The latter could enhance your sentence and include the following:

Driving under the influence while on probation for a DUI conviction
Refusing to submit to a BAC test
A BAC level of .15% or higher
Having a minor under the age of 14 years in the vehicle
Speeding and reckless driving
Causing an accident while driving under the influence
Underage drinking and driving
An experienced DUI defense attorney could present a defense or argue mitigating circumstances in court to reduce or dismiss the charges.

What Crimes Can You Face for a Fifth DUI in California?

If you’re arrested for drunk driving for the fifth time in California, the prosecutor may charge you with additional crimes depending on the facts of the case. They will determine if there is evidence to prove that you committed another crime. For instance, you could face a DUI Causing Injury charge under VC 23153, which can be a felony, even without any prior DUI convictions. The prosecutor only needs to show that you caused bodily injury to someone while driving under the influence.

In the case of causing someone’s death while driving under the influence, you could face a second degree murder charge under Penal Code 187. The “Watson Murder” charge requires only one prior California DUI conviction, making it possible to charge even those with just one prior conviction.

If you’re driving with a child in the car while intoxicated and it results in an unreasonable risk of harm to the child, you could face child endangerment charges under Penal Code §273a PC.

Each criminal charge related to your DUI conviction could result in additional penalties. Instead of spending up to three years in prison, you could spend decades in state prison. The fines can also increase.

What Defenses Can Help Win a Fifth-Time DUI Charge?

To fight a DUI charge, a California DUI defense attorney can analyze your case and determine what defenses are available. They can challenge procedures related to the DUI stop or arrest and raise one or more defenses regarding whether you were actually intoxicated at the time of the arrest.

Some defenses for a DUI 5th offense charge include alleging a medical condition that mimicked signs of intoxication, such as a brain injury or diabetic episode, dental work causing false breathalyzer results, police violating your civil rights, contaminated urine or blood samples, failure to maintain the chain of evidence, malfunctioning or defective breathalyzers, acid reflux or GERD causing false breathalyzer results, police officers not having reasonable suspicion to pull you over, non-standard field sobriety tests that are unreliable, or officers improperly conducted the standardized field sobriety tests.

Having a strong defense is the best way to avoid harsh penalties. If your attorney can prove that the police violated your legal rights, the evidence collected during your DUI stop and arrest could be thrown out of court. Attacking the state’s evidence could result in a dismissal of the charges.

Can a Fifth DUI Conviction Be Expunged From a Criminal Record?

In most cases, a fifth-time DUI conviction is not eligible for expungement. To expunge a DUI conviction, the requirements are that it was issued by a California state court, your sentence didn’t include time in a state prison, you completed all terms of your probation or it has been at least a year since the conviction if the judge didn’t order probation, you’re not currently serving probation for another criminal offense or facing charges for another criminal offense, you didn’t violate any terms of probation, and you met all other sentencing requirements like alcohol treatment programs, paying restitution, or community service.

However, most people convicted of DUI a fifth time are sentenced to serve at least some time in prison, making it impossible to get rid of the conviction even if you meet all other criteria for an expungement.

Do You Need a California DUI Defense Attorney for a Fifth DUI Offense?

A DUI conviction can significantly impact your life, including job loss, loss of child custody, and difficulties getting a job due to a criminal record. Consulting a California DUI defense attorney immediately is the best option to win your case.

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