Having a good time with friends and family can often involve a drink or two. But when you have too much to drink and decide to get behind the wheel of a car, you may find yourself charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
In the state of California, anyone who is under the influence of alcohol and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.08 percent is considered to be driving under the influence. First time offenders may believe that because it is their first time being charged with a DUI that they will get off easy, but that is most certainly not the case.
What Happens after a DUI Arrest?
Once arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer will immediately forward a copy of the notice of revocation or suspension form and your driver’s license to the DMV. If the revocation or suspension is upheld during the DMV’s administrative review, you have the right to request a hearing so that you can contest the revocation or suspension. This request must be made within ten days of receiving the revocation or suspension order.
One of two things may happen at this point:
- The DMV will find that there is no basis for the revocation or suspension and your driving privileges will be reinstated
- The DMV will find that the revocation or suspension is justified
If the DMV finds that the DUI charge is justified, drivers in California can potentially face both criminal and administrative penalties.
The Criminal Penalties First Time Offenders Face
First time offenders face anywhere from three days to six months in a county jail here in California. Fines can range from being anywhere from $390 to $1000 and you will be on probation for between three to five years. This means that you cannot violate any law that results in an arrest with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood (zero tolerance).
Anyone who is charged with a DUI will have that conviction remain on his or her record for ten years, and it will affect any subsequent DUI arrests you may receive in that time. Lastly, charged drivers are required to complete a DUI program for three, six, or nine months.
The Administrative Penalties First Time Offenders Face
Those who are successfully charged with a DUI will have their license administratively suspended by the DMV for a minimum of four months. Prior to being able to regain your license, you will need to complete a mandatory alcohol assessment or treatment evaluation, and an Ignition Interlock Device must be installed in your vehicle in most Californian counties. Once your license is reinstated, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance coverage.
Most Commonly Asked Questions
Understandably, a lot of individuals who are accused of driving under the influence have many questions when they contact one of our DUI attorneys. Here are some of those most often asked:
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An Ignition Interlock Device is a handheld mouthpiece used to measure the level of alcohol in your blood. It must be blown into in order for charged DUI drivers to operate their vehicle.
- If your breath alcohol level is below the permissible limit, you will be able to operate your vehicle
- If your breath alcohol level is above the permissible limit, your car will not start
These devices also require on-going maintenance for which you will be responsible, and which must be performed at your expense.
What Is SR-22 Insurance?
After you have been convicted of a DUI, SR-22 insurance allows you to have your license reinstated after the suspension period ends or if you manage to obtain a restricted license. The insurance must be carried with you until your probation period ends.
Do I Have to Go to Jail?
A knowledgeable DUI attorney will often be able to have your jail time reduced to probation only. If you violate your probation, however, the court will retract your probation sentence and will re-determine the consequences you must face for your DUI and for the probation violation.
The state of California has some of our nation’s strictest DUI laws and penalties for first time offenders. The penalties and the consequences of a DUI on your record are not only severe, but they can haunt you for ten years or more.
It is vital that anyone accused of a DUI, especially first time offenders, find an experienced DUI attorney who can help reduce their charges from a DUI to a lesser offense. At the Kestenbaum Law Group, our knowledgeable attorneys can answer any questions you may have about the DUI process and discuss what defense options are available to you.
To speak to one of our attorneys about your specific case, we invite you to call our office at (818) 616-4312 to arrange an initial consultation.