California has a 10-year look-back period for DUI convictions. The way this window is calculated as from the dates of violation, rather than the dates of conviction in court. For example, if someone is pulled over for DUI on March 1st, and is later convicted in court on June 5th, the date used to calculate the 10-year period is the date of March 1st.
A person’s conduct is a factor in many prosecution offices as well. In many cases, a District Attorney’s office will review whether there was a traffic collision, or whether the person was cooperative with law enforcement. Unfortunately, even if someone has the right to legally refuse the field sobriety tests or preliminary alcohol screening test, in my experience, prosecutors treat those individuals more harshly than others who complied with the requests. Further, if an individual has other vehicular offenses on their record, such as driving without a license (violation of California Vehicle Code Section 12500(a)) or driving on a suspended license, it can lead to harsher prosecutions and punishment. In many cases, the person’s past criminal history can be a substantial factor in determining whether the person should be deserving of a lenient or probationary sentence instead of jail time, alcohol monitoring bracelets, or a heavy punishment of community labor.
While there is no mandatory minimum jail time for a 1st time non-injury DUI, any allegation of a 2nd DUI or subsequent DUI within 10 years of a previous DUI or wet reckless will subject the person to mandatory minimum jail time. This jail time is generally in addition to the jail time already served by the person immediately after being arrested for DUI.
Each additional DUI violation within a 10-year period will lead to higher and harsher criminal penalties. Further, multiple DUI convictions can lead to a loss of a person’s California Driver’s License for many years, a lifetime ban for commercial driver’s license holders, or in some rare cases being labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender.