Even a first-time DUI is a potentially life-changing experience that affects a driver’s record, reputation, and freedom. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can assert and protect the rights of any California driver who is charged with DUI for the first time. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can ensure that anyone accused of DUI maintains their driving privileges for as long as possible while awaiting the resolution of the criminal matter. The following describes the penalties that DUI offenders typically face after their first offense.
The State of California typically charges drivers who have a BAC of .08 or higher with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher). A first-time offense for DUI in California is a misdemeanor.
The minimum punishments set forth by California statute differ based on whether the DUI involves a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.20% or higher, whether the motorist refused to submit to a breath or blood test, and whether the incident resulted in a collision and/or injury to another party.
Most first-time DUI offenses involve a BAC below 0.20%, no refusal to submit to a breath or blood test, and no collision or injury. Also, most cases do not involve a child present in the vehicle, which may result in the driver being charged with child endangerment under California Penal Code § 273a.
A first misdemeanor DUI in California carries $390 to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments and fees that may increase the total to anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000.
Although rare, a first-time DUI defendant may be sentenced to anywhere from 48 hours to six months in county jail. California statutory law does not make jail time mandatory, although Riverside county imposes a short period of custody in county jail.
Offenders face three (3) years of probation, but in some cases, the court may impose five (5) years of probation. DUI defendants typically must complete 30 hours of classes over three months of DUI school as a condition of probation. If the defendant has a BAC of 0.20% or higher, the DUI school requirement is nine (9) months and 60 hours of classes.
The California DMV imposes a four (4) month administrative license suspension as a penalty for a first-time DUI. If the motorist refused any test for BAC, the DMV increases the suspension to one (1) year. California criminal courts may impose a 6-month license suspension for first-timers. If a driver has multiple suspensions, they may overlap, but drivers are still limited to serving the longest possible suspension.
Once the initial 30-day suspension period passes, drivers may qualify for a restricted license so they may drive to and from work or school. Finally, the court may require first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles for six (6) months.
This punishment may also include any other conditions the court deems necessary, which may include jail time in a county rather than a state detention facility. A first-time DUI sentence may also differ depending upon the county of origin and consideration of the facts of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
A DUI remains on a driver’s record for ten (10) years. During this ten-year period, any other DUI arrests will necessitate stiffer penalties. It is often crucial that California motorists accused of a DUI have an experienced California criminal defense attorney to help achieve the best result possible under the circumstances of the case.
There are many defenses that can be used to fight a DUI charge, get evidence suppressed, and ultimately dismiss the DUI. As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.