The following information is simply meant to give you some insight into how a case might move through the system in Sacramento County. Hopefully this will give you the tools you need to make the right decisions based on the facts and circumstances of your own case. If you are only interested in the possible penalties for a first offense non-injury DUI in Sacramento County, scroll to the end of this article.
DUI cases begin with law enforcement making contact with an individual suspected of DUI. Law enforcement may pull you over or make contact with you after you are already stopped, parked or out of the vehicle. Sometimes people are in parking lots, on the side or middle of the road or have been in an accident. Driving is a required element in California DUI cases. If law enforcement pulls you over, they have direct evidence of driving. When law enforcement doesn’t see you drive they are using circumstantial evidence to show that you did drive while under the influence.
You will have been arrested and taken to jail, released to a responsible adult or left at the hospital. If you were taken to jail and not required to post a bail bond, you will have been given a written promise to appear for court at a specific date and time in Department 2 of the Sacramento Superior Court, located at 720 Ninth Street Sacramento, CA 95814. In Sacramento, arrested individuals are normally given a court date about three (3) weeks after their arrest.
On your written promise to appear, you will notice that law enforcement has placed the proposed charges about three (3) inches from the bottom of the page. This is what the arresting officer thinks you should be charged with. The Sacramento County District Attorney is responsible for almost every DUI case that comes through Sacramento County and the actual filing decision is in their hands. In most instances, the charges will be as you see on the paperwork you received at the jail.
Changes in the law have added new code sections related to DUI. California Vehicle Code §23152(f) is the new charge for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. Prior to January 1, 2014, California Vehicle Code §23152(a) covered Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol. California Vehicle Code §23152(g) is the new charge for Driving under the combined Influence of Drugs and Alcohol.
If you were left at a hospital, law enforcement will send the reports to the District Attorney’s Office with a Warrant Request. Then it is up to the District Attorney to decide whether charges should be filed and, if so, to notify you. If you get a Warrant Notice in the mail, you will need to be booked (fingerprinted and photographed) and given a court date and time to appear. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Warrant Bureau is located at 711 “G” Street, on the 7th Street side of the building. If you’re nervous about them taking you into custody, have a reputable bail bond company or attorney contact the warrant bureau make sure you will be cited and released. The paperwork you will be given looks similar to what a person is given that is booked into the county jail, however, it should include the actual charges and your docket number.
Some court days are busier than others and I suggest you get to court early, as parking may be limited around the courthouse. The new and improved meters take quarters or credit cards and there are two separate parking structures. The County lot is located between “G” & “H” Streets and 7th & 8th Streets. There is also a private lot in the alley, between “G” & “H” Streets, across from the courthouse fountain. After some initial announcements by the bailiff outside the courtroom, you will be allowed to enter Department 2. If your case hasn’t yet been filed the Bailiff will have you sign a paper and you will be given a new court date. If the District Attorney has rejected the filing of charges, you will be told that they still have up to one (1) year to do so. As a practical matter it’s very unlikely that this will happen, as an attorney in the District Attorney’s Intake Department has already reviewed the reports and made the decision to reject the case. It helps to be one of the first people in the courtroom so you can find an aisle seat as far forward as possible. If you have hired an attorney you may not be required to appear in court, although some attorneys may want you there.
Sacramento is one of the four counties participating in the Ignition Interlock Pilot Program under Assembly Bill 91. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI in Sacramento County you will be ordered by DMV to put the IID on any vehicles you own or operate for a period of 5 months. You will receive a letter from DMV shortly after you resolve your case instructing you to install the IID. If you do not own a vehicle and/or only drive an employer’s vehicle you may qualify for an exemption. Read the letter carefully, follow the instructions and respond quickly as there are time limits to do so. As of 1/1/2019, SB 1046 will be replacing the Pilot County Program. There is some uncertainty about the details but it may be possible to avoid any license suspension at all by complying with certain requirements quickly.
The basic penalties in Sacramento County for a first (1st) offense non-injury DUI, based on a Blood or Breath test between .08 and .14, are as follows:
Three (3) years informal probation-this means: 1. Obey all laws
48 hours jail-The court will normally have no objection to any of the sheriff’s alternatives to jail. In fact, it’s unusual for this county to order any actual in custody jail time on a 1st offense DUI. The alternatives include work project and work furlough/home detention. If you intend to ask for community service hours, you should bring evidence of a disability or evidence that you live in a county without a reciprocal agreement with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office for the normal alternatives to jail or that you live outside of California.
There are numerous reasons why the prosecution might ask for more jail time.
If an individual has prior DUI(s) or Wet Reckless offense(s) outside the 10 year statutory period, they are often asking for an additional five (5) days of time for each offense.
They will ask for two (2) extra days for every point above .15 BAC. For instance, if the BAC is .25, you should expect the offer to include 20 additional days.
A Refusal of the evidentiary chemical test, under California Vehicle Code §23577 and §23538(b)(2) cause difficulty with the criminal case in terms of the length of DUI school ordered and with the term of the DMV license suspension. In addition to this, the District Attorney’s policy is to ask for 30 days of time for the refusal alone. This is on top of the regular sentence.
An Excessive Speed enhancement, under California Vehicle Code §23582 for driving 30mph over the posted speed limit on the highway or 20mph over the posted speed limit on surface streets, where the driving is reckless as defined in California Vehicle Code §23103, will add 60 days of time to the regular sentence.
A minor passenger under the age of 14 gives rise to an enhancement under California Vehicle Code §23572. The District Attorney is asking for two (2) days of time (in custody) for each minor passenger, in addition to the regular sentence.
PC4019 credits-Sacramento County only makes people do half the time ordered by the court. Additionally, you no longer have to pay for the half of the days that you don’t actually do.
Residential treatment – the court will likely allow day for day credit, in lieu of time, but you don’t get half time like you do with jail, work project or home detention.
Outpatient treatment – may reduce number of days but don’t expect day for day credit.
The fines are the only consequence of a DUI that have actually been reduced in many years. They total about $2400.00 and you can pay them in full downstairs in Room 102 after court or you can agree to pay the fines over time through the Department of Revenue Recovery (DRR). If for any reason you don’t receive a bill within about a month give them a call at (916) 875-7500. If you decide to make payments, DRR adds about $65.00 to the bill to set up an account. As of January 1, 2017, the Sacramento Courts are allowing people to convert about $2000.00 of the total fines to 4 additional days of time in jail or in one of the sheriff’s alternatives.
If restitution is ordered to a victim (this can be an individual or government agency) that will appear on your bill as well. DRR adds 10% of the restitution bill to the account as a handling charge. The most obvious reason restitution is ordered is if you cause an accident and someone is injured or there is property damage. Your own insurance will often cover this type of restitution and you shouldn’t have to pay the victim twice. Another reason restitution is being ordered more and more frequently is because the government will want to recover the costs of time spent for what is known as Emergency Response Costs. (See Government Code(s) § 53150-53159.) Often times, restitution is ordered in an amount to be determined. If you receive a letter from DRR instructing you to call them if you disagree with the restitution amount claimed by a victim, you must follow the directions in the letter and contact them by the date listed. If you fail to do so, you are effectively agreeing to pay that amount of restitution. It is also advisable to contact your attorney, if you were represented, because the attorney is not notified. The case will then be set for a formal restitution hearing where the DA will present evidence or the victim will appear in court to justify the claim.
A three (3), six (6) or nine (9) month DUI school will be ordered. The different lengths of classes are based on the BAC. A BAC up to .14 will require a three (3) month class, a BAC of .15-.19 will require a six (6) month class and a Refusal or BAC of .20 or higher will require a nine (9) month class. The costs of the programs in Sacramento are $675.00, $860.00 and $1140.00, respectively. The courses are 30, 45 or 60 hours total. There is not a way to truly accelerate the programs and finish earlier, although some schools may be more flexible or creative in how they get you through their program and still comply with State requirements. There are a limited number of allowable absences. If you live out of State you may want to ask the court to order but stay the DUI school, as you don’t want to be in violation of the terms and conditions of your probation. There are DUI Schools throughout the State.
Additionally, if you live outside of California, there is a once in a lifetime ability to get the California DMV to lift the hold on your privilege to drive without completing a DUI school or installing an Ignition Interlock Device. This may not work if you Refused the chemical test or your BAC was .20 or higher. First you will need to wait until all the mandatory suspension time is over. Then you will need to apply for a 1650 Waiver with the Mandatory Actions Unit at DMV by calling (916) 657-6525. They will mail the necessary forms to you at your Out of State address. You will need to provide DMV with evidence that you live outside of California, file an SR22 with the California DMV for three (3) years and agree that if you move to California within three (3) years you will take and complete the appropriate DUI school.
If you call the Law Office of Denis White for a free consultation, we will be asking you for information contained on the white agreement to appear as well as the pink temporary license if one was given to you. The sooner you call, the more time you’ll have to make an informed decision on how you want to proceed.