What am I looking at for a first time DUI in criminal Court?
Typically, a statutory minimum first time DUI offense in California requires two days of jail time, with credit for time served. Three years of informal probation, with no probation officer. Around $2,000 in fines, payments are allowed. A 3 month DUI class, meeting once a week for a couple of hours. The maximum penalty is 6 months in county jail. Local customs will vary from courthouse to courthouse, even within the same county. A DUI or a wet reckless are both priorable for the next 10 years, which means a second DUI conviction would lead to increased jail time, fines and classes.
What will happen to my driver's license & DMV?
The DMV controls the california driver's license in a seperate administrative proceeding. You must request an adminstrative per se hearing (APS) within 10 days to a contested hearing. This is before an administrative law judge. Failure to do so results in automatic suspension in 30 days. Once the license becomes suspended for DMV purposes it lasts for 4 months, of which 30 days is a hard suspension. Following the 30 days, one can apply for a restricted license. At the end of the hard suspension, you can apply for a restricted license, which will allow you to go back and forth from the DUI class and work. When a person is convicted of a DUI in criminal court, the court sends the proof of conviction to the Sacramento DMV office and a license becomes suspended for 6 months. However, the 4 month DMV suspension can happen at the same time as the 6 month suspension. In other words, it's concurrent and if they happen simultaneously. For example, if DMV hearing and licenese suspension happened on the same day, the suspension would last only 6 months total, not 10 months. The DMV will also order an ignition interlock device if you the crime occurs in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda or Tulare counties. An ignition interlock must be installed for a period of 5 months. If one has a restricted driver's license and an IID, you can have unrestricted driving. It also counts as two points against your license. You can get a license after the suspension is over by paying a $125 re-issuance fee, getting an SR22 proof of insurance and maintaining insurance for 3 years. You must take the DUI class to remove the suspension and get your license back.
Can I get a wet reckless?
You may be eligible if you have low blood alcohol or by plea bargaining with the district attorney. A wet reckless is codified under ca vehicle code 23103.5 pursuant to 23103.5. It comes with half the consequences of a DUI, but still courts as a DUI for future DUI convictions. Typically no jail time, 3 years of court probation or less, around $1,000 in fines, 6 week DUI class, no ignition interlock requirement and license is no suspended by the court, althought it may have already been suspended by DMV. You may be eligible for a Helmandollar waiver which would leave your license intact. A wet reckless has a maximum punishment of 90 days jail. Having a wet reckless will reduce the amount of auto insurance versus a DUI.
What happens if I drive with a suspended license because of DUI?
You will get a violation of ca vehicle code 14601.2(a). This will count as 2 points against your license and requires the ignition interlock device. It also requires 10 days in jail, with credit for time served. In many counties, the fines will be around $2,000 with 3 years of court probation. If you pick up another driving on a suspended license, within 5 years, you will be looking at a minimum of 30 days county jail in addition to fines and IID..
What's my defense?
They must prove you're the driver. If it's based on circumstantial evidence, they must show there's no other reasonable conclusion other than you were driving the vehicle. The no drive defense can be a great and successful defense. Talk to an attorney to discuss the particulars. If you're contesting the numbers, the prosecution will need to show you were at .08 or above at the time of driving, even though the test measured your alcohol when adminisered not at the time of driving. Defenses of drinking after driving, and rising blood alcohol can be successful. To prove impairment, the district attorney will need to show that you could not exercise the care and caution of an ordinary person. Defenses can range from having tolerance on a drug DUI to being tired or sleepy. Talk with an attorney about the specific facts in your case. You can also challenge the maintence and calibration of the machines used and argue that another substance caused a false positive. You might have other motions to challenge the prosecution's case that can result in a dismissal or reduction in charges. Many attorneys on Avvo, including the author, provide free consultations! Good luck!
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