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What are the California DUI Penalties for a First Offense?

Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in California for the first time could face a range of penalties, including fines, community service, and jail time. In this article, we will discuss the possible penalties that you could face if convicted of DUI in California for the first time. Keep in mind that the exact penalties you face will depend on a variety of factors, including your age and Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).


What is a First DUI Offense in California?

    The first offense of DUI in California is a misdemeanor that can have serious consequences. The sentence range for first offenses varies depending on the severity level but could include anything from probation to prison time. It is important to understand what constitutes a DUI and the potential consequences of a conviction before you drink and drive. 


Penalties for a First-Time DUI in California

    If you are convicted of a first-time DUI in California, you may face the following penalties:


License suspension.

    A first-offense DUI in California will result in a license suspension of at least four months. The DMV can also choose to issue a restricted license after the mandatory 30-day hard suspension period has passed. This restricted license will only allow you to drive to and from work, school, or alcohol education classes. And If your BAC was .08% or higher, or if you refused to submit to a chemical test, the suspension period is increased to one year.


Jail time.

A first-time DUI offense in California can result in up to six months in county jail. However, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was particularly high or if you caused an accident that resulted in injuries, you could face enhanced penalties of up to a year in jail.


Fines and fees.

    One thing you will face after a first DUI arrest in California is fines and fees. The base fine for a first-offense DUI is $3600, but with penalties and assessments, the total cost of your DUI will be higher. You may also be required to attend an alcohol education program, which can cost upwards of $500. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08% or higher, or if you refused to submit to a chemical test, the fine will possibly increase.


Attending DUI school.

    For a first DUI offense in California, you will be required to attend a DUI school. The length of the program is determined by the court but is typically between three and nine months. You will also be required to pay for the cost of the program, which can range from $500 to $2000.



    In addition to attending DUI school, you will also be placed on probation for a period of three to five years. During this time, you will be required to comply with certain conditions, such as not driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08% or committing any other crimes. If you violate the terms of your probation, you could face additional penalties, such as jail time.


Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.

    An IID requires you to blow into a tube attached to the device before starting your engine. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, it will prevent your vehicle from starting. You may be required to install an IID as part of your DUI probation. The length of time you'll be required to have an IID depends on the county where you live and whether you refused or failed a chemical test. In some cases, first-time DUI offenders can avoid having an IID installed by enrolling in a sobriety program that uses continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM). With CAM, you wear a bracelet that monitors your alcohol consumption and sends data wirelessly to a company that provides 24/7 sobriety monitoring.


Attending the victim impact panel.

    The victim impact panel is a two-hour educational seminar that discusses the effects of drunk driving. You will be required to pay a fee to attend the seminar, which is typically higher than $50.


Indirect consequences.

    In addition to the direct consequences of a DUI, there are also indirect consequences that can have a serious impact on your life. These include things like increased insurance rates, difficulty finding employment, and social stigma. While the legal penalties for a first-offense DUI are not as severe as they could be, the indirect consequences can be very significant.

    If you're caught driving under the influence in California, there are several penalties you could face. The consequences increase with each subsequent DUI offense. But even for a first-time DUI, the penalties can be quite severe. That's why it's important to contact an experienced DUI lawyer if you find yourself in this situation. The team at our law firm is here to help, so call us today.


Do You Need a DUI Lawyer You Can Trust?

With Lynn Gorelick, you don't have to face criminal charges alone. You will receive personal attention to your case. Ms. Gorelick will be the one to appear in court with you from beginning to end. Ms. Gorelick, herself, will be doing your DMV hearings. You will not be handed off to another attorney or associate. You deserve this kind of attention to your needs at this stressful time. Ms. Gorelick has represented people charged with DUI for over 38 years.  She has NEVER been a prosecutor who pursues convictions. She has only DEFENDED people accused of crimes. Contact us today for your consultation!


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