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The Reality of a DUI: What's at Stake?

Lauri Mckenna

The Reality of a DUI: What's at Stake?

DUI
| 5 min
5 Min

There's nothing better at the end of a long, hard work week than to kick back with your friends and share a couple of drinks. It all seems harmless enough while you’re at the party—a couple of burgers on the grill, throw back a couple of shots, and things are feeling great.

That is until the time comes to head home, and you get behind the wheel. The moment you see those flashing lights in your rearview, panic and regret start to set in. So, what exactly are the consequences of being charged with DUI?

Impaired Driving

You're probably familiar with the terms Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired (DWI.) DUI laws vary by state but California's zero tolerance statutes treat any illegal act of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs with the same stiff penalties.

There are 7 misdemeanor under California DUI laws. One of the most common charges is a BAC measurement of .08% or higher.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

In order to put forward the best defense, you’ll need an experienced DUI lawyer to present the facts of the case and defend your good character. These issues will help decide if you're entitled to a plea bargain or jury verdict. Penalties you'll face will also depend on whether it's your first offense or if it has happened before.

First DUI

  • Fines—Between $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
  • Jail—48 hours to 6 months. In most cases, first offenders get probation.
  • License suspension—6 months plus a 4-month DMV administrative suspension if over .08% BAC. One-year suspension for refusal of BAC testing. Restricted license with ignition interlock device (IID) allows driving for work and school.
  • Probation—3 to 5 years of informal probation and 3 to 9 months of DUI school classes, dependent on BAC.

Second DUI

  •  Fines—Between $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
  •  Jail—96 hours to one year (may be served as house arrest or alternative work programs.)
  •  License suspension—2-year suspension and 12-month DMV administrative suspension. Restricted licenses are allowed but an IID is required for at least 12 months.
  • Probation—3 to 5 years of informal probation and 18 to 30 months of DUI school classes.

Third DUI

  • Fines—Between $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
  • Jail—120 days to one year (30 days if probation granted and 30-month DUI school.)
  • License suspension—3-year suspension and 12-month DMV administrative suspension. Restricted license with an IDD for 2 years.
  • Probation—3 to 5 years of informal probation and 30 months of DUI school.

Penalties for DUI where injury or death occurs are more severe. Offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, pay thousands of dollars in fines, and may face a maximum of 15 years to life in state prison for the most severe violations.

Hire an Experienced DUI Lawyer

Don't go it alone. Hiring an attorney that has experience in California DUI defenses could help you minimize your penalties, but you'll need to act quickly to comply with tight deadlines. You only have ten days to request a hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Doing so will postpone your license suspension until the DMV hearing is resolved. With representation at the DMV hearing, you could even keep your license.

Every DUI case is unique. Look for an attorney who has a clear understanding of California DUI laws, who will take the time to clearly communicate without judgment, and who will offer transparent fees and payment plans. By choosing the right attorney to represent you in court and at your DMV hearing, you may be able to avoid the harsh consequences of a DUI conviction and get back to living your life.

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