A person who has been arrested for a first-time DUI in California must face two government agencies: the DMV and the criminal court. When arrested, the driver can be charged according to Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Vehicle Code 23152(b). The first code makes it illegal for any driver to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and the second makes it a crime to drive with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher. While these are separate offenses, the defendant can be charged and convicted of both.
Possible Consequences of a First-Time DUI
A first-time DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor. The main possible outcomes of a first-offense DUI case include the following:
- Fines: After being arrested for DUI, you may face fines ranging from $390 to $1000. This number could be much higher based on any penalty assessments.
- Lost freedom: Depending on the DUI crime severity, the offender may face probation for three to five years or even jail time of 48 hours to six months. Judges are often lenient towards first offenders and order probation.
- Banned to drive: Your license may be suspended for six months and your driving privileges temporarily revoked.
- Community service: In some cases, DUI convictions require mandatory community service that can be up to 50 hours
- Educational DUI program: You may be required to attend DUI classes for three months, logging in 30 hours of educational content. For BACs of 0.20% of higher, the program may last 9 months and consist of 60 hours of class.
The offense can be elevated to a felony if the driver caused someone to be seriously injured or killed. In addition, there are other aggravated circumstances that can increase DUI penalties such as driving with a minor under the age of 14, having a BAC level of 0.15% or higher, and traveling 20 mph over the mandated speed limit.
Ways to Get a DUI Charge Reduced or Dismissed
While most DUI offenses require court appearances, there are select instances that can lead to a dismissed DUI charge:
- If a defense lawyer can prove that there was no probable cause to stop or arrest you for driving while intoxicated
- If a defense lawyer is able to have the court exclude any incriminating evidence from being considered
In situations where the circumstances of the case make it difficult to prove a DUI charge is necessary in a trial, the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the DUI charge to a lower offense. However, this is only plausible if the prosecutor determines that the defendant’s BAC was close to the legal limit. Prosecutors are also more willing to offer a reduced charge if the defendant has no prior DUIs – aka a first-time DUI.
A plea deal may be possible for first-time offenders. However, that is less likely to happen if a vehicle accident occurred, the BAC level is above 0.10, or if any of the aforementioned aggravated circumstances are at play in the defendant’s case.
What Comes Next
If you end up being charged with a DUI, it is important to understand that a DUI remains on your record for 10 years. This starts from the date of your arrest rather than the date of your conviction. If you later decide to get an expungement, this option becomes available after a certain period of time. In order to qualify for expungement, you must complete all necessary requirements mandated by the court.
It can be very intimidating and stressful to face a DUI charge. Finding a good lawyer to handle your case can make it much easier to navigate. The defense lawyers at the Law Office of Taylor & Taylor provides their clients with great representation. Here, first-time offenders will always be in great hands.