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Top Ten Questions > From Multiple Offenders

1. How old a prior still "counts"?

Ten years. Experienced Sonoma County DUI lawyers know that the "priorability," or "look-back" or "washout" period with respect to past DUI convictions (both wet reckless and regular DUI convictions count as prior DUI offenses) used to be 5 years under former California Vehicle Code section 23102. In 1981, penalties were increased and the current Vehicle Code section CVC 23152 was born.

timeIn 1986 the period was extended to 7 years, and in 2005 the current 10-year rule was implemented. Your Santa Rosa DUI attorney should be able to explain that the period of increased risk exposure is 10 years from date of prior arrest; according to applicable law, courts must calculate DUI priorability from the date of prior DUI arrest to the date of new DUI arrest. The date of a past DUI conviction is not relevant except in date calculations for possible violations of probation.

The best Sonoma DUI lawyers understand that even if a prior offense is beyond the 10-year look-back period (an "out-of-time prior"), preventing a Sonoma County prosecutor from charging a new offense as a multiple DUI case with increased mandatory minimum jail time and longer DUI classes, nevertheless the prosecutor may use the old prior when fashioning the plea offer in the new case, and often demands additional penalties beyond a standard first DUI for a new Sonoma DUI conviction, such as additional jail time, imposition of an ignition interlock breath device for longer than would have been requested, and prohibitions on alcohol use or possession for the duration of probation in the new case. Of course the best Sonoma DUI attorneys will fight or negotiate against such increased penalties whenever weaknesses in the case may be pursued.

Ten-year priorability applies to the DMV as well, so that after ten years, the license suspension period is reduced as though the out-of-time prior never happened. However, Sonoma DUI attorneys often see a prior DUI incident inside ten years count for DMV suspension purposes but not in court, such as an under-age 21 prior offense with very low alcohol levels, or a prior DUI offense dismissed in court but the drivers license was suspended by DMV, or if the Sonoma District Attorney "misses" a prior DUI conviction which the DMV computers separately identify and use in a new DMV case.

DUIs can go in different directions in different cases with very different results. Click on Anatomy of a Sonoma DUI on this site and see the many different directions a Santa Rosa DUI case can take, some of which result in priorable offenses, and some of which don't for certain purposes. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.

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Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Sonoma County resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of Sonoma County DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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Dave Jake Schwartz