Written by attorney Randy Collins

First Offense for DUI (California)

A first-time offense for DUI is typically handled as a misdemeanor offense. However, you can be charged for a felony if your Blood Alcohol Content is found to be extremely high. In 2008, according to California government DUI statistics, drivers with exceptionally high BAC levels (meaning a BAC of 0.15% or higher) were the cause of more than half of all alcohol-related traffic fatalities. In 2007, of the DUI offenders arrested in California, 73.6% were first-time offenders and 26.4% were repeat offenders (with one or more prior offenses within the previous 10 years). It is important to take note that a misdemeanor DUI offense is a serious crime not just a simple traffic ticket, and can result in high fines, alcohol abuse treatment hours, license suspension and revocation, and even county jail time. A DUI offender is in direct violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152 which states that it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs (or addicted to drugs). If you are found with a BAC of 0.08% or above then you will be arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Both DUI and DWI’s are punishable by the same standards laid out by the California Vehicle Code Section 23152. Your DUI arrest triggers two separate cases, one with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the other with the California court. For a first-time offense you can expect the DMV to suspend your license for up to 6 months. If you do not protest your suspension within 10 days of your arrest than your driving privileges will be automatically suspended. In order to re-instate your driving license you will have to show proof of CA SR22 insurance and in some cases, you may be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device. It is possible to request a restricted license but you must have a valid reason, such as needing to drive to get to work. If you are facing first-time DUI conviction then along with your driver’s license suspension you could face a fine of $390 to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for 96 hours to 6 months. It is possible that you will be granted probation. In this case, the probation period is typically three to five years and you must agree to never get behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle with any trace of alcohol in your system. Under probation, you could face a fine of $390 to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for 48 hours to 6 months. You may also be ordered to participate in a state-licensed and approved driving-under-the-influence program. This article was created by your Orange County DUI lawyers, MacGregor and Collins, LLP.

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