Under California DUI laws, driving under the influence cases what are known as “priorable offenses”. This means that every subsequent conviction increases your minimum sentence. Yet even as a priorable offense, most DUIs are typically prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses.
Your first, second, or third drunk driving conviction within a ten-year period will still be punished as a misdemeanor. And if you suffer any subsequent DUI convictions beyond the ten-year period, the sequence begins anew. This means that you can accumulate quite a few DUI convictions before the offense is charged as a felony…that is, unless you serious injure or kill another person as a result of your intoxication.
First-time California misdemeanor driving under the influence offenders are punished by a maximum six-month jail sentence, but generally do not spend any time in jail. Second-time misdemeanor DUI offenders face a minimum 96 hours in jail and a maximum one-year sentence. Third-time misdemeanor DUI offenders face a minimum jail sentence of 120 days to a maximum sentence of one year. Learn more in our article, "Can a DUI conviction be removed in California?"