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Placer County Drunk Driving Prosecution

Placer County is one of the toughest in California when it comes to enforcing DUI laws and has specialized courts to handle such cases.

In response to three prominent DUI homicides in 2005—including the death of a respected police officer and a child on a bicycle—Placer County assembled a task force to determine ways to deter DUIs and reduce risks.

Placer County Drunk Driving Prosecution

(photo credit: JSmith Photo via photopin cc)

DUI Second and Third Offenders

The task force placed special emphasis on second offenders. In an attempt to separate out “high risk” offenders, the probation department administers a psychological test. If the defendant scores poorly on the test (or has other risk factors such as a recent prior), formal probation is ordered.

The DA asks for 30 days of jail time for all second offenses. California law requires only 48 hours in custody. The statewide average is 10 days or less—often 48 hours plus an eight-day work project.

Third and subsequent offenders are deemed dangerous. The task force determined the best way to protect the public is to incarcerate these offenders for as long as possible.

Vehicular Manslaughter and Murder Prosecutions

In 1991, Placer County prosecuted a vehicular homicide case as murder for the first time. I was the defense attorney on this case. The defendant was driving 105mph on Highway 65 when he ran his truck into a car carrying a family of five, killing three. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was .23.

The jury found he acted “in willful and wanton disregard” for human life and found him guilty on three counts of second-degree murder. Since this time, Placer County has filed murder charges and prosecuted several impaired driving homicides.

Placer County DUI Sentencing Patterns

You will find the following is generally how DUI cases are prosecuted in Placer County (though each case will vary depending upon the facts of the case):

First Offense Sentencing Patterns

Jail time is based on BAC:

  • .09% – .14% = No (additional) jail time
  • .15% – .19% = five days
  • .20%+ = 10 days

Additional factors:

  • Non-injury accident = add 10 days
  • Chemical test refusal = add 10 days
  • Minor in the car = add 10 days

Offenders generally receive three years of informal probation, a fine of $2,100, three months of DUI school, and participation in a victim impact panel. The court advises the DMV of the conviction, usually resulting in a six-month license suspension.

Second Offense Sentencing Patterns

Jail time is based on BAC:

  • .09% – .14% = 30 – 40 days
  • .15% – .19% = 40 – 60 days
  • .20%+ = 60 – 90 days

Additional factors:

  • Non-injury accident = add 20+ days
  • Chemical test refusal = add 20 days
  • Minor in the car = add 20+ days
  • Violation of probation = 10 – 30 days for each grant of probation

Offenders generally receive four years of formal probation, a fine of $2,400, 18 months of DUI school, and participation in a victim impact panel. A defendant may be ordered to stay away from alcohol and bars, and is subject to search and seizure. The court advises the DMV of the conviction, usually resulting in a two-year license suspension. New options may allow the defendant to drive on a restricted basis after 90 days.

Third Offense Sentencing Patterns

Jail time is generally 120 – 270 days. If the defendant is on Placer County probation, jail time is extended to 180 – 365 days.

Additional factors:

  • Non-injury accident = add 30+ days
  • Chemical test refusal = add 20 days
  • Minor in the car = add 20+ days
  • Violation of probation = 10 – 30 days for each grant of probation

Offenders generally receive five years of formal probation, a fine of $3,200, 18 months of DUI school, and participation in a victim impact panel. A defendant may be ordered to stay away from alcohol and bars, and is subject to search and seizure. The court advises the DMV of the conviction, usually resulting in a three-year license suspension. New options may allow the defendant to drive on a restricted basis after six months.

Conclusion

Placer County has earned their tough reputation and they intend to keep it.

If you are charged with DUI, it is important your lawyer is well-versed in California DUI law, is well-known and respected in the Placer County courts, and is able to present credible alternatives to jail time. I’ve handled more than 1,000 DUI cases and know how to fight for you and help you get your life back on track. Call me at (530) 823-5400 today to learn how I can help.