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First Offense DUI

Drinking a little more than we intended to can happen to any of us and it’s usually not a problem if we can just go to bed and sleep it off. But what if someone goes to a party or other type of event and accepts that first drink that someone hands him, then keeps right going without realizing hoe many he has had. Soon, it’s time to go home and he suddenly realizes that he came alone and has to drive back home. The most intelligent thing to do would be to ask someone for a ride or call a taxi, but in that condition, it’s hard to think intelligently, so this person gets in his car and tells himself that he is OK to drive…he’ll just take it easy and make it home in one piece! But soon after heading out into the road, he sees the flashing lights of a police car and knows he made a terrible mistake. 

Has something like this happened to you? If the answer is yes, then you probably went through the whole ordeal of having to do a field sobriety test, a breathalyzer, then being arrested for your first DUI. Going through this situation is terrifying and it should be because it carries some very serious consequences such as jail time, a suspended license, fines, and much more. Of course, being charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean that you are going to be convicted of it. You should speak to a criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases as soon as possible to discuss your case and what can be done about it.

About Jail Time For a First DUI

One of the biggest fears that people have when they are arrested by the police for a DUI, or any other reason for that matter, has to do with going to county jail or even worse to prison. Going to the county jail for your first DUI is a possibility but that does not mean that you absolutely will; it depends on various factors including how severely the presiding judge feels that you deserve to be punished. A DUI is a state offense and every state has different laws pertaining to DUIs. For example, in the State of California, when someone is convicted of their first DUI they face a number of penalties that include up to 6 months in county jail. Yes, 6 months! You are probably thinking that that seems pretty harsh, especially for someone’s first time going through this. Some people would agree with you; however, authorities choose to take a strong stand when it comes to driving under the influence since it is a huge problem that causes a lot of accidents and quite a few fatalities on a yearly basis.

That being said, most people who are convicted of their first DUI do not actually get a maximum of 6 months in county jail. Having a good attorney who can argue about mitigating factors such as there not being any accident to speak of or your blood alcohol level being low can convince the judge to consider other options such as probation with a 3 month DUI program as a condition.

Suspension of License Due to First DUI

After the possibility of having to spend a considerable amount of time in county jail, what most people fear the most after getting charged with their first DUI is having to lose their license. Most people use their cars on a daily basis for just about everything that they have to do such as going to work, running errands, going to appointments, taking the kids to school, and much more; so life gets seriously complicated for these people if they lose their licenses due to a DUI. The situation gets even worse for them if they happen to live in an area where public transportation is difficult to deal with or even non-existent. Unfortunately for those who are convicted of their first DUI, there is usually no way to get around a suspended license. You might be able to stay out of jail if you get yourself a good lawyer and the circumstances of your case are nothing out of the ordinary, but you can bet on having a suspended license once the judge makes his or her final ruling. 

How long of a suspension you will actually be dealt with depends on the state that you are convicted in and how harshly the judge wants to punish you. If you happen to be convicted of your first DUI in California you will face a license suspension of up to 6 months; but even if that were not the case, you still get a 4-month license suspension from the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV suspension goes up to 1 year if you refused a breathalyzer when the arresting officer asked you to take one. As devastating as all of this information probably seems to you if you are facing your first DUI charges, we want you to know that there is a bit of good news. For one, your license suspensions will both usually run consecutively, meaning that you only really suffer the longer one; for another, you will be able to apply for a restricted license that will allow you to drive to and from work or school after the first 30 days of your suspension period.

Fines and Fees Related to Your First DUI

By now, you have probably already noticed that the penalties for a first DUI are notably harsh, but it does not stop there because it will also cost you money. Not only will you be facing fines and fees if you are convicted of your first DUI, but your car insurance will also go up as a direct result. In California, fines for a first DUI range from $390 to $1,000 with the judge having complete freedom to choose an amount depending on how he or she sees fit; additional fees can bring the total up to $3,600 so it is definitely not going to be cheap. Hiring an attorney who knows what he or she is doing is obviously going to cost you too, but his or her experience with DUI cases can help you to bring these and other penalties down, making it a wise investment.

About Your Car

As we mentioned, if you are convicted for your first DUI, your car insurance is certainly going to go up. There will also be fees to get your car back if it was impounded during your arrest. The presiding judge can also choose to have an ignition interlock device (IID) wired to your car’s ignition system. You will have to use this ignition system whenever you want to use your car; if it detects any alcohol on your breath, the engine simply will not start. As you might have already guessed, the cost of this device will be your obligation.  

Proper Legal Representation

Before reading this article, you might have thought that you could face your first DUI on your own and just explain things to the judge, then wait for a slap on the wrist. Clearly, that is not going to happen. You need proper legal representation because the possible penalties are most certainly harsh. A good attorney with DUI experience can work wonders and even get the case thrown out of court if the arresting officer did not have probable cause to stop you, in the first place, or did not follow procedure to the letter.  

By: Douglas Miranda

Los Angeles criminal attorney Douglas Miranda graduated with honors from California State University, Los Angeles, and earned his J.D. from Western State College of Law in Fullerton. Since his admission to practice law in California, he has received special training and certification in forensic science, jury selection, and sex crime defense. Mr. Miranda also helps clients terminate their probations early and expunge their criminal records.

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