You decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking, and now you are facing the consequences of your first-time DUI offense. Like many other states, California imposes strict penalties for driving under the influence, and you need to know what to expect. For example, in some circumstances, prosecutors will seek jail time even for first-time offenders.
Legal Consequences of a First-Time DUI Offense
A DUI arrest triggers two types of legal proceedings: a court trial and a driver’s license suspension hearing. The court will decide issues of criminal conviction, probation terms, jail time and fines. The DMV will decide the issue of driver’s license suspension.
You have the power to challenge the suspension, but to do so, you must contact the DMV within 10 days to request one. Otherwise, your license will be suspended 30 days from the date of your arrest. If you request the hearing promptly, you will retain your rights to drive while awaiting the hearing, based on a stay of the automatic suspension. However, it’s essential to note that a court ruling in a criminal trial can still order a suspension of your driver’s license, even if your DMV hearing has a successful outcome.
Most people get released from jail within a few hours of a DUI arrest. You often will not need to post bail first, especially for a first-time offense with no injuries.
Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense in California
Criminal penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DUI vary by California county, but they can include the following:
- Three to nine months of DUI school
- Depending on the county, fines totaling between $1,500 and $2,000
- A work release
- Three to five years of informal probation
What Is Probation?
Depending on the specifics surrounding your first-time DUI conviction and the county where it takes place, a judge may order probation. In this case, you will spend little to no time in jail. However, you must agree to adhere to specific rules for the duration of your probation:
- You cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
- You must agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for at least six months, unless you promise not to drive at all.
- You may not refuse to submit to a DUI chemical test if arrested for a subsequent drunk driving offense.
- You cannot get caught committing any additional crime.
Depending on your unique situation, the court may also impose the following conditions of DUI probation:
- Attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
- Participating in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Program
- Victim restitution, if you caused an accident while driving under the influence
If you violate any of these terms, you may have your probation revoked. The judge can then reinstate your sentence, which will typically include jail time.
Your DUI Attorney in Southern California
With representation from an experienced drunk driving defense attorney, it is often possible to minimize or entirely avoid many legal penalties associated with a first-time DUI conviction. Reaching out to us as soon as possible after your arrest gives your attorney maximum time to represent your case. At the Law Office of Salvatore P. Ciulla, our criminal defense practice has been providing clients with knowledgeable, dedicated legal advice since 1986.