In the state of California, driving offenses fall under three classifications. The least serious are infractions, which lead to tickets and fees. Misdemeanors and felonies, however, are more likely to land you in jail. Here are the top five driving offenses that carry a sentence in The Golden State.
1. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor offense. While punishments for this category of driving offense vary, you’re guaranteed up to 90 days in jail along with a $1,000 fine for this violation. Usually, your license is also suspended for at least 30 days. A second violation increases your probation period to 60 days.
2. Hit and Run
If you’re lucky, the judge will classify this offense as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. As a misdemeanor, you’re looking at up to a $10,000 fine off the bat. You can lose your license for up to an entire year, most of which you can plan to spend in county jail. The maximum number of days for imprisonment is 364. For a felony charge, that time limit is increased to four years.
3. A DUI
Driving under the influence can carry wildly varying sentences in California. The least you can expect to receive is a first offense misdemeanor, which comes with up to six months in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. You typically lose your license for one year as well.
As the offense increases, so does the sentencing. A first offense felony DUI that causes an injury can cost you up to $5,000 in fines on top of restitution for damages and injuries. You could spend up to sixteen years in state prison, too.
4. Vehicular Manslaughter
Whether you were driving recklessly, distracted, or under the influence, vehicular manslaughter comes with an immediate jail sentence. Just like a DIU, however, the consequences of this crime vary depending on the circumstances.
You can expect to spend anywhere from one to six years in a state prison on a felony charge or one year in county jail on a misdemeanor charge. Your fines ultimately depend on the damage caused by the accident as well as what the family of the deceased is seeking in court.
Due to the varying nature of these sentences, it’s vital that you hire an attorney. This is especially true if English isn’t your first language. A language barrier should not prevent you from hiring an attorney who can explain the legal process involved in criminal defense cases.
5. Driving on a Suspended License
For your first offense, you can expect to spend anywhere from five days to six months in county jail. Fines range from $300 to $1,000 in addition to any penalty assessments. Adding in a DUI or previous offenses significantly raises your fines and jail time. Maximum fines reach $2,000, while imprisonment can accumulate to five years. The situations surrounding your violation as well as the judge can lead to a sentence anywhere in-between those numbers.