It is understandable to be confused if you are facing charges for a 1st DUI offense. You might not know what to expect throughout your case and how to prepare for it. That is why you should seek the services of a DUI defense attorney to help you throughout your case. Please ensure that you contact an attorney as soon as you are arrested, even at a roadblock, because any proceeding thereafter will affect your case. If you are in Bakersfield, we invite you to contact us at the Koenig Law Office today.
Overview of 1st Offense DUI Under California Law
DUI regulations in California make it illegal for anybody to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. When an individual is significantly impaired by alcohol, illegal substances, or a combination of both, they are termed to be "under the influence. California has comparable rules prohibiting the drunk riding of motorcycles or scooters, as well as boating while intoxicated (BUI).
Stringent BAC requirements apply to some drivers. Commercial drivers who have a blood alcohol content of .04 percent or higher can be apprehended for DUI. In addition, California enforces "zero-tolerance" regulations that criminalize underage motorists (anyone below 21 years of age) to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 percent or higher.
Getting arrested for DUI in California could begin when you are pulled over for a traffic infraction, at DUI checkpoints, or after being involved in a car accident. The following are among the reasons that may cause traffic police to pull you over:
- Failure to yield the right of way
Following your arrest, the police will request you to undertake a set of activities known as a field sobriety test. The tests involve, among other tests, having to stand on one leg. It is, however, optional to take the field sobriety tests. Persons who refuse to take the tests face no legal consequences. Following the test, the officer can further require you to breathe into a breathalyzer device to determine the level of alcohol in your breath.
If the BAC is 0.08 percent on the Breathalyzer, you'll be apprehended and placed in police custody, whereby a blood test shall be performed. During a DUI conviction, the most dependable proof is the blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse to take the chemical tests, however, you will face legal repercussions. This may involve additional punishments and a compulsory license suspension when you are convicted.
Following the completion of the Blood Alcohol Concentration test, you'll be held in jail. The booking process entails gathering all of your personal information. If this is your first Driving Under the Influence offense, you could be freed after being arrested and booked.
Penalties for a California First Offense DUI
In California, you could be charged with DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is.08 percent or more (commonly referred to as a "per se" DUI) or when you are "under the influence" of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Whenever you are arrested for some crimes, you won't face any consequences unless you're found to be guilty (by either pleading guilty or you are found to be guilty at trial). However, if you are charged with the crime, if you are legitimately apprehended for Driving Under the Influence, you may face administrative repercussions like license suspension You'll also risk further criminal consequences if you're guilty of DUI. In most cases, a DUI is regarded as a "first offense" if it has been ten years since your previous DUI.
The process. If you've been legally arrested for a first-time DUI and the chemical tests show you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08 percent or higher, the arresting authority will seize your driver's license and impose an "Order of Suspension or Revocation" as well as a temporary driving license. Your temporary permit is effective for thirty days from the issuing date, after which the Order of Suspension or Revocation takes effect. You will get 10 days from the date you get the Order of Suspension or Revocation to pursue a DMV hearing if you wish to dispute the license suspension.
A refusal to take a chemical test in defiance of California Implied Consent regulations will result in your driver's license being suspended for 1 year after your temporary license expires. Despite the result of your court trial, this suspension will remain in effect.
Exceeding the legal limit
A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08% or higher will result in a four-month license suspension by the DMV. You could be qualified for a restricted license upon completion of a thirty-day "hard suspension." Your restricted driving permit will allow you to drive to your workplace, as well as to a Driving Under the Influence education program and back home. You need to enlist in a DUI course, show evidence of insurance, as well as make a $125 payment license reissue charge to get a restricted license.
You have to finish an educational DUI course to get your license back. Based on your blood alcohol content and other case considerations, the DUI programs can last anywhere from 3 to 9 months and charge anywhere from $600 to $1200.
Ignition Interlock Device
You could choose between a twelve-month restricted permit (which mandates an ignition interlock device) for driving to your workplace or school, or a 6-month Ignition Interlock Device requirement when your license is reinstated. The expenses for installing and maintaining IID will be your responsibility. It costs approximately $70 - $150 to install and $60 - $80 for monthly upkeep.
In California, a first Driving Under the Influence charge is usually considered a misdemeanor. You could face fines ranging from $1,400 - $2,600, as well as penalty charges that can total thousands of dollars or higher. A judge can also sentence you to a maximum of 6 months in prison (although no jail time is mandated if probation has been granted).
As a 1st time DUI offender, you will almost certainly be sentenced to 3 to 5 years on probation. Probationary conditions typically include:
- No driving if you have a detectable level of alcohol in your body
- When an officer requests it, you must consent to checkpoint alcohol tests
- Refraining from additional infractions of the laws
Other requirements that the court can enforce include participation at a self-help group. Additional fines may be imposed if you violate the conditions of the probation.
A court will usually suspend your driver's license for 30 days to 10 months for the 1st DUI charge. As previously stated, you could be eligible for a restricted permit, which allows you to drive with fewer restrictions. The punishments for misdemeanor convictions are determined by several criteria, such as:
- Any prior DUI charges, as well as the period since they happened
- If or not you have been previously placed on probation for a DUI offense
- The substance in question, whether it's alcohol, drugs, or both
- If you were under the influence of alcohol, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
- Your willingness to participate in blood/breath chemical tests
- If an accident occurred
- The speed at which you had been driving and whether or not it was beyond the legal limits
- Who was present in the car, as well as if you had any minor passengers
- Your driving capabilities, including putting others in danger
- Whether you are under the age of 21
Keep in mind that you have only 10 days from the moment of your arrest for a California DUI charge to seek a DMV hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Your request will delay your driving license suspension till the judicial proceeding is completed, and it could even lead to your suspended license being reversed.
If you employ a California DUI lawyer during the 10-day time frame, he or she will be able to petition the hearing on your behalf and defend you in court.
The DMV Hearing for 1st DUI Offense
Obtaining a DMV hearing isn't guaranteed. Following a 1st DUI, you could seek a hearing to challenge the indefinite suspension of your license. You have only 10 days from the time of your apprehension to seek a hearing with the DMV. Your driver's license shall be suspended for six months if you do not demand a hearing before ten days, or if you lose the hearing. During a DMV hearing, your odds of winning are usually minimal. However, winning isn't out of the question.
What Considerations Will the DMV Take into Account?
When deciding whether to suspend your license, the following considerations will be taken into account:
- If you passed the chemical test
- Did the arresting officer have probable cause to know that you were inebriated?
- Was your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than the legal limit at the time of the arrest?
- If you refused to take the chemical test or you failed to finish the test
- Were you taken into custody legally?
- Did the police inform you that if you refused or failed to perform the DUI tests, your driving privileges would be suspended for a year or revoked for 2 or 3 years
1st Offense DUI Conviction Expungement in California
You must submit a petition with a California court to have your DUI record expunged. The appeal will be reviewed by a court to ensure that it is eligible. If the court approves the DUI expungement, you may repeal your guilty/no contest plea. After that, you will submit a "not guilty" plea, and the matter will be dissolved.
The biggest advantage of a DUI expungement is that it makes it easier to find work. The "ban the box" statute in California forbids employers from inquiring about previous offenses at the interview session. However, after a prospective job proposal has been issued, your employer is legally permitted to inquire about prior convictions. If you've been convicted of DUI, you'll have to inform your employer. You, however, do not need to disclose your expunged record.
A potential (or present) employer should not show prejudice against you because of a conviction that has been expunged. As a result, if a DUI conviction has been erased, an employer should not consider it when hiring or promoting an applicant.
An expungement could also:
- Help you acquire a professional license in the state
- Keep the criminal charge from being referenced in trial to cast doubt on somebody's integrity
- In some situations, assist someone in avoiding deportation as a result of their immigrant status
Aggravating Factors that May Lead to Harsher Consequences for a First-Time DUI
In California, several "aggravating factors" could raise the penalty for a DUI conviction. Even if it is your first DUI, the following mitigating factors apply.
- A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 percent or above
- Refusal to take a chemical test
- Triggering an accident
- Driving at high speeds, described as higher than 30 miles per hour beyond the posted speed limit on the highway and higher than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on the street
- Carrying minors below 14 years in the vehicle, often recognized as child endangerment as per PC 273
- Being below 21 years at the moment of the crime
The severity of the additional sentence is determined by the presence of these elements as well as your criminal history. The judge will pay special attention to if you have any previous DUI convictions.
Penalties for a 1st Offense DUI with Injury
When you cause bodily harm to a third party, you could be convicted with DUI resulting in injury (VC 23153). Pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers or passengers in another car, or passengers in your vehicle could all be considered third parties.
DUI resulting in harm is a "wobbler" crime in California. A "wobbler" is an offense that can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor, based on the following factors:
- The accident's specific circumstances
- Your criminal history
When your first DUI offense is VC 23153, it is usually tried as a misdemeanor. It can, however, be prosecuted as a felony DUI if the facts merit it.
Consequences of a Misdemeanor DUI that Results in Injury
DUI causing injury charged as a misdemeanor in California could result in the following penalties:
- Summary probation for 3 to 5 years
- 5 days to a year in county jail
- Fines ranging from $390 to $5,000
- A 3, 18, or thirty-month alcohol treatment program
- 1 to 3-year restriction on your driving license
- Compensation to all those who have been harmed
1st Offense DUI with Injury Charged as a Felony
The following circumstances justify prosecuting VC 23153 as a felony:
- If another individual suffers severe injuries or dies as a result of your actions.
- A felony drunken driving charge in the past
- Previous charges for driving while intoxicated or a "wet reckless"
Penalties for First Time Felony DUI with Injury
When DUI causing injury is charged as a felony under VC 23153, the following penalties may apply:
- 16 months to 10 years in state prison
For wounded victims, a further and concurrent 1 to 6-year prison term may be imposed, depending on the following factors:
- How many people were hurt as a result of the accident?
- The severity of the damage incurred by the third parties
- As per the Three Strikes legislation in California, a potential "strike" on your criminal record
- Fines ranging from $1,015 to $5,000
- An alcohol or drug treatment program that can last 18 - 30 months
- All parties who have been harmed must be compensated
California's Alternative Sentencing for First-Time DUI Offenders
Persons charged with a 1st DUI conviction in California may be eligible for "alternative" punishment. These penalties are substitutes for incarceration in a state prison or county jail. The following are some examples of alternative sentencing options:
- Roadside work
- House arrest or electronic surveillance
- Placement in a sober-living facility
- Detention in a city or private jail
- Community service
How Your lawyer will Help in Defending Against a First-Time DUI Charge in California
The easiest strategy of fighting a first-time DUI charge in California is to engage an attorney as early as possible after being arrested. Putting together the best case for a first-time DUI in California is much more beneficial if executed quickly. An expert California DUI attorney will take the following steps:
An expert criminal attorney will find and interrogate key witnesses as soon as possible. If possible, the attorney will get police footage of the purported scene of the crime.
Conduct Legal Research and File Motions
There are laws that relate to traffic violations and DUI prosecutions. An attorney will understand what to look into and what proof is required to back up any claims. A “Petition to Conceal Evidence” as per California PC 1538.5 is a common motion. Before the trial, motions must be submitted and heard. As a result, a successful move to dismiss will almost always lead to the case being dismissed.
The majority of DUI convictions do not proceed to trial. Instead, they come to an end as a result of discussions between the prosecution and your defense attorney. Negotiations of this nature frequently result in:
- A dismissal of the matter
- A plea deal to a reduced charge to a "wet" reckless or a "dry" reckless
- A speed contest
An expert DUI defense attorney will recognize what kind of information will persuade the prosecution to drop or lessen the charges.
Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
A strong defense can help you lower the consequences for your DUI charges or possibly get your case dismissed. If you or a loved one has been arrested for 1st offense DUI in Bakersfield, contact the Koenig Law Office at 661-793-7222 for legal assistance.