What Happens on Your First DUI in California?

What Happens on Your First DUI in California?

Facing a DUI charge is a serious and stressful matter. Because of the danger posed to the driver, passengers, and fellow motorists, the state of California does not take this charge lightly. If you have received a DUI charge, you may face severe and often unforeseen penalties. Hiring an experienced Ontario DUI attorney could make all the difference in understanding your rights as a driver as you navigate the DUI charge.

Potential Penalties

If you’ve been charged with DUI, you will face several possible penalties. It is important to familiarize yourself with these penalties to avoid surprises moving forward.

  • Fines. These fines start at $390 and are subject to increase based on the severity of the offense. They can total above $1000 in cases where the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above .15%. In addition to these fines, you may also face additional penalties.
  • Jail time. Even for a first-time DUI conviction, the state of California may enforce a two-day minimum jail sentence. However, if the court orders probation, you may receive little to no jail time.
  • Driver license suspension. The DMV may suspend or revoke driving privileges due to a DUI conviction or refusal to submit to a chemical test after a lawful arrest. A judge overseeing the case may also issue a suspension.
  • IID (Ignition Interlock Device) installation. An IID is installed at your expense and prevents your vehicle from being started without a breath sample to prove you are not under the influence.
  • Mandatory DUI school. In many cases, the court will assign you mandatory attendance to a drug and alcohol educational course as well as a driver safety school.
  • Professional consequences. If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you may face further penalties in court as well as disciplinary action in your place of work.
  • Increased penalties for future DUI convictions. All fines, jail time, suspension, and other penalties as a result of another DUI conviction within ten years of your initial DUI will increase significantly.
  • Possible felony penalties. If you are convicted of DUI and have caused an accident resulting in the death of another person, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter. This felony conviction will significantly increase the penalties you face.
  • Indirect costs. This can include increased insurance costs, vehicle repairs, medical costs, and loss of personal and professional reputation.

This list is not comprehensive, and depending on the severity of the case, you may be subject to other costs and penalties. Our DUI attorneys are well-versed in navigating these penalties and negotiating a positive outcome for our clients.

Hire a DUI Attorney

Finding an experienced Ontario DUI attorney is crucial to getting the support you need to achieve a good result for your case. Your attorney will consider all the case details to ensure the arrest and booking were lawful. They will look for any weakness in the prosecution’s evidence and use those to your benefit. Your attorney may also call on expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.

If your constitutional rights as a driver have been violated in any way, your attorney is vital to minimizing the severity of the penalties you are facing.

Contact the DMV

You must contact the DMV within ten days of your arrest to schedule a hearing. If you do not meet this ten-day deadline, your license will be suspended, and you will lose your right to fight that suspension. It is also important to note that the DMV action is separate from criminal court and must be handled with them directly within the assigned deadline. If you have already hired an attorney within this timeline, they will assist you in this process.

Write Down the Details

Every detail matters when facing a DUI charge. We recommend that you take a moment as soon as possible to write down everything you remember about your arrest and booking. This includes where and when you were stopped, any witnesses present or passengers in the vehicle, what you did before the incident, and anything else you remember. Even the smallest detail could assist your attorney and give them insight that can help your case.


Q: Is Jail Time Mandatory for 1st DUI in California?

A: While certain counties in California mandate time in the custody of a county jail (including Riverside County), San Bernardino County (along with Los Angeles County and Orange County) does not mandate jail time and often spares first-time defendants from this penalty. This is good news for residents of Ontario facing a first-time DUI.

Q: Can Your First DUI be Dismissed in California?

A: While not common, it is possible to get a first-time DUI charge dismissed in California. A dismissal means the charge will not show up on your record and will not count against you in the future as a prior offense. You must plead not guilty and work closely with your DUI attorney to determine the steps most likely to get a dismissal of your case.

Q: What to do After Getting Your First DUI in California?

A: You should do these two things as soon as possible after your arrest. First, hire an experienced DUI attorney, and second, contact the DMV to schedule your hearing. You must contact the DMV within ten days of your arrest to avoid missing this deadline, which will result in forfeiting your right to a hearing and having your license suspended.

Q: What Is the Most Common Sentence for a First DUI?

A: While sentences may vary, the most common include three years of probation, fines averaging $390 to $1000 plus penalty assessments, and mandatory attendance in a three-month drug and alcohol program. You may also face jail time and a 6-month suspension of your California driver’s license (though you may continue driving if you are issued an IID.)

A DUI charge can be daunting. Whether it is you or someone you love who has been charged with DUI, you do not have to face it alone. Our experienced DUI attorneys at The Law Office of Daniel P. Flores are ready to meet the challenge with you by providing dedicated and comprehensive counsel. To learn more about how we can assist in your defense, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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