Grant to Placer County, CA to focus on high-risk DUI offenders

California enforcement of driving under the influence has grown in California, with law enforcement agencies cracking down on drunk driving. Penalties for a first-time DUI are not light, but for drivers convicted of a repeat DUI or felony DUI, the penalties are life-altering. And in northern California, authorities are specifically targeting such people.

A new grant to the Placer County Probation Department, given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the California Office of Traffic Safety, will attempt to make sure that felony DUI and multiple misdemeanor DUI offenders will meet their court dates and comply with other court-ordered requirements.

The Probation Department will conduct surprise random home searches along with drug and alcohol testing and monitoring. Convicted persons will also have to comply with education and treatment programs. The Probation Department has pledged to work with local law enforcement in order to monitor such offenders.

California penalties for multiple and felony DUIs

A first-time DUI in California is a misdemeanor charge. This means if no mitigating factors occurred, such as injury or death of another, the offender faces informal probation for three years, fines up to $2,000 and a license suspension of four months, provided the driver accepted the alcohol test.

Repeat offenders face much stiffer penalties. A second-time DUI is a two-year license suspension, mandatory jail time of between four days and maximum one year in jail and an 18-month alcohol education or treatment program.

If the driver is charged with a felony DUI, whether because of injury to another, a previous felony DUI conviction or it is the driver's fourth DUI, the penalties increase dramatically. A felony DUI may lead to several years of imprisonment.

Fourth Amendment protections

Under California law, DUI checkpoints are legal, although that is not the case in all states. Other jurisdictions have rejected DUI/license checkpoints as too intrusive and against Fourth Amendment protections. Under the Fourth Amendment, U.S. citizens are protected from unreasonable search and seizure. For example, a police officer cannot pull a driver over without a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.

In order to ensure checkpoints are not too intrusive, California police must obey certain guidelines, such as using a neutral mathematical formula when pulling over drivers (e.g. every fifth driver).

Multiple DUI and felony DUI arrests can be potentially devastating. Drivers facing the steep penalties resulting from such arrests should immediately contact a skilled DUI defense attorney to discuss their legal options and defenses.