What Is the Process of a DUI in California?

What Is the Process of a DUI in California?

We understand that facing DUI charges can be overwhelming. That is why our DUI attorneys are committed to serving the community of Ontario. Because of the severe nature of this charge, the process can be daunting. Enlisting the help of an experienced Ontario DUI attorney will take out the guesswork and set you up for a positive outcome.

Arrest and Booking

When you are suspected of driving under the influence and pulled over, you will likely be given a chemical test. This test can either be a blood test or a breathalyzer. If this test confirms that you have been driving under the influence, or if you refuse the test, your driver’s license will be taken from you. You will receive a temporary pink driver’s license.

DMV Hearing

Your next step is to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of your arrest to schedule a hearing. You must stay within this timeline. If you miss this deadline, your license will automatically be placed under what is called an administrative suspension. If the 10-day window passes and this suspension has been issued, you will lose any right to fight the suspension moving forward.


In most cases, the goal is to resolve the case here without proceeding to trial. The prosecution is required to disclose all evidence to your attorney during this phase. Your attorney will review this evidence, searching for weaknesses or technicalities that may work in your favor. They will also assess the case details to ensure your arrest and booking were lawful and that none of your rights have been violated.


While it can be risky, a court trial is not always a negative. There are times when your attorney will recommend going to trial. This happens most often when an agreement has not been met or if there are apparent flaws in the prosecution’s case or evidence. During a trial, your attorney’s job is to convince the jury that the evidence against you is subject to doubt, resulting in an acquittal.

What Penalties Will You Face for DUI in California?

Although penalties vary from case to case, these are the most common ones you may face if you are charged with a first-time DUI. If this is not your first DUI, you will be subject to increased penalties.

  • Fines range from $390 to $1000, as well as additional penalty assessment fees
  • DMV and court-ordered license suspension
  • 3-5 years of probation
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation in your vehicle
  • Mandatory DUI and driver safety school
  • Increased penalties if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Increased penalties for future DUI charges
  • Possible felony charges if your DUI caused an accident resulting in a death
  • Potential jail time

Tips for Decreasing the Penalties of a DUI

First, take action on scheduling your DMV hearing. As stated above, you have 10 days from the date of your arrest to organize this hearing. If you fail to meet that deadline, you are subject to a license suspension and lose the right to fight it. It is important to note that the DMV is separate from criminal court, and you will need a separate hearing to fight the suspension.

Second, consider seeking drug or alcohol treatment while the case is still pending. This is a great way to potentially reduce penalties associated with a DUI charge. You can start treatment right away, showing the court that you are willing to take responsibility and commit to positive changes in your life. While entering treatment will not guarantee a penalty reduction, it can significantly improve your chances and be beneficial in helping you maintain sobriety and avoid future DUIs.

Finally, consider hiring a knowledgeable Ontario DUI Attorney. A DUI attorney will be familiar with navigating the complex ins and outs of the court system and be able to guide you through the process. They will be well-versed in your rights and able to spot inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. When hiring a DUI attorney, you gain an ally with invaluable experience who will negotiate on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected.


Q: What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in California?

A: First-time DUIs in California are classified as misdemeanors and can result in probation, fines and penalty assessments, DUI school, driving school, license suspension, and installation of an ignition interlock device, also known as an IID. These penalties are subject to change based on the details of the case and court rulings.

Q: How Long Does a DUI Case Take in California?

A: The time frame is dependent on a few factors, including but not limited to the complexity of your case, the workload of the court, your acceptance of a plea bargain, a decision to go to trial, investigations, and scheduling conflicts. DUI cases that do not go to trial are typically settled within 3 to 6 months.

Q: Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI in California?

A: An officer can take your license if you are arrested for DUI. If this happens, they will issue you a temporary license that expires in 30 days. You will then have 10 days from the date of arrest to contact the DMV and schedule a hearing to contest administrative suspension.

Q: Do You Have to go to Court for a DUI in California?

A: As a misdemeanor, a DUI charge can result in going to court. If the case does go to court, it will be tried in front of a jury following the California DUI process. However, many misdemeanor DUIs are settled by attorneys outside the court and never see trial. If your case has felony charges, though, you will be required to go to court. Felony charges will apply if you cause an accident that results in the death of another driver or passenger.

If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge, knowing your options and understanding the process is essential. Remember, you do not have to face this alone. Our dedicated DUI attorneys at The Law Office of Daniel P. Flores are here to provide experienced 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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