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Watson Advisement

If you've ever been convicted of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in California, you may have encountered the term "Watson Advisement." This formal declaration is an essential component of DUI convictions in the state and carries significant legal implications. In this article, we will explore what a Watson Advisement is, what it signifies for individuals who must sign it, and the circumstances under which someone may be required to do so.

What is a Watson Advisement?

A Watson Advisement is a formal declaration that individuals convicted of DUI in California must sign following their conviction. It serves several critical purposes within the legal system:

  • Acknowledgment of Understanding: By signing the Watson Advisement, you acknowledge your understanding of the potential for harm or fatalities resulting from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Essentially, it signifies your awareness of the grave consequences of DUI-related accidents.
  • Use as Evidence: The advisement informs you that it can be utilized as evidence against you in the event you are involved in a DUI incident in the future. In other words, if you are charged with DUI again, the prosecution can use your signed Watson Advisement as evidence of your prior knowledge of the risks associated with impaired driving.

The Origins of the Watson Advisement

The name "Watson Advisement" is derived from the California Supreme Court case of People v. Watson (1981). In this case, the court ruled that if a person causes the death of another while driving under the influence, they can be charged with second-degree murder. This landmark decision established that individuals convicted of DUI in California must be made aware of the potentially lethal consequences of their actions.

Circumstances Leading to a Watson Advisement

The circumstances that lead to a Watson Advisement typically involve a prior DUI conviction and subsequent DUI-related incidents. Here's how it generally unfolds:

  • Initial DUI Conviction: A person is arrested and convicted of a DUI for impaired driving.
  • Completion of DUI Program: As part of their sentence, the individual is often required to complete a DUI education program.
  • Signing the Watson Advisement: Upon successful completion of the DUI program, the individual may be required to sign a Watson Advisement. This typically happens at the conclusion of the program.
  • Future DUI Arrest: If the person is arrested and charged with DUI again in the future, the signed Watson Advisement can be used as evidence in the new case to establish their prior knowledge of the dangers of impaired driving.

Legal Implications of the Watson Advisement

The Watson Advisement is not to be taken lightly. It has significant legal implications, especially if you are arrested for DUI again. Here's what you need to be aware of:

  • Enhanced Penalties: A subsequent DUI conviction after signing the Watson Advisement may result in enhanced penalties, including longer jail sentences, higher fines, and a longer driver's license suspension.
  • Potential for Murder Charges: In cases where a DUI-related accident causes a death, you could be charged with second-degree murder, known as a "Watson Murder." This charge carries severe consequences, including the possibility of life imprisonment.


The Watson Advisement is a critical element of California's legal system designed to hold individuals accountable for the consequences of DUI-related incidents. It serves as both a formal acknowledgment of the dangers of impaired driving and a legal tool that can be used against those who continue to drive under the influence. If you find yourself in a situation where you are required to sign a Watson Advisement, it is crucial to seek legal counsel and understand the potential ramifications, as the consequences of subsequent DUI convictions can be severe. Consulting with an experienced DUI defense attorney is essential to navigate these complex legal matters and protect your rights.

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