What Is the Washout Period for a DUI in California?
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What Is the Washout Period for a DUI in California?

By San Diego Attorney on March 31, 2022

A washout period is the amount of time when a prior conviction will be applied to later criminal charges. Also known a lookback period, a washout period limits how long earlier convictions will count against you if you are convicted of an offense such as drunk driving.

Penalties for a DUI increase based on past convictions. The washout period is ten years in most cases, so convictions from more than ten years ago probably won’t apply if you are charged with a DUI. But this doesn’t include a felony DUI conviction, which isn’t subject to a washout period.

How Does a Washout Period Work?

According to the Center for Disease Control, driving under the influence causes 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths. That’s why DUI Penalties in California increase substantially with each additional offense. The penalties for a first DUI are harsh, but judges and prosecutors are much more likely to offer reduced or alternative sentences if the defendant makes positive gestures, such as seeking treatment and giving assurances that the behavior will not be repeated.

Penalties for additional DUIs become increasingly severe. When it comes to sentencing a driver for a DUI, a prior DUI, a “wet reckless” conviction, or an-out-of-state conviction are all counted against you equally, and having one or more of them could dramatically increase the penalties you are facing.

With a washout period, if a person has gone more than 10 years without receiving a DUI conviction, the charge would be treated like a first offense. Adult DUI convictions remain on your criminal record indefinitely, but they no longer count against you in a DUI proceeding. But a felony DUI never washes out.

Misdemeanor or Felony?

Most DUIs are prosecuted as a misdemeanor, even second, third, and fourth offenses. In many cases, a DUI is considered a “wobbler” offense because the prosecutor is allowed to decide whether it will be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony.

When deciding whether to charge a DUI as a misdemeanor or a felony, the District Attorney will consult the police report. Factors that may lead to felony conviction include:

DUI Penalties

Drivers convicted of a DUI in Californian may be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to prevent them from driving when they have been drinking. In some cases, alternative sentencing may be available. Penalties for a DUI include:

1st Offense misdemeanor DUI

  • Up to six months in jail
  • $390-$1000 in fines
  • Up to six months mandatory IID or a four-month license suspension
  • Three or nine months DUI School

2nd Offense misdemeanor DUI

  • 96 hours to one year in jail
  • $390-$1000 in fines
  • One-year mandatory IID or a two-year license suspension
  • 18 or 30 months DUI school

3rd Offense misdemeanor DUI

  • 120 days to one year in jail
  • $390-$1000 in fines
  • Two-year mandatory IID or a three-year license suspension
  • 30 months DUI school

1st offense misdemeanor DUI with injury

  • Five days to one year in jail
  • $390-$5000 in fines plus restitution
  • Six months mandatory IID or a one-year license suspension
  • 3, 18, or 30 months DUI school

1st offense felony DUI

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in prison
  • $390-$1000 in fines
  • Up to five years license suspension
  • 18 or 30 months DUI school

1st offense felony DUI with injury

  • 16 months to 16 years in prison
  • $1015-$5000 in fines plus restitution
  • One-year mandatory IID
  • 18 or 30 months DUI school

Have You Been Charged With a DUI?

A DUI conviction can derail your future, restrict your driving privileges, and take away your freedom. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our firm is dedicated exclusively to defending the rights of Californians in criminal cases.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, call (760) 630-2000 for a FREE consultation. We take action right away to protect you.

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