California has strict DUI laws and the penalties can be severe. Getting a DUI can certainly be an unpleasant experience and many believe that once they have been cited for a DUI they do not have any options. This is not always the case, many factors can affect a DUI charge. Taking prompt action and contacting a DUI attorney for assistance is an excellent first step. Most DUI lawyers offer a free initial consultation where you can confidentially discuss the details of your case with no obligation to hire them. This is an excellent opportunity to determine if you feel that particular attorney is a good fit for your case. Skilled DUI attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in defending clients and providing options on how to fight a first-time DUI offense.
A first DUI or DWI charge conviction can have high costs and penalties associated with it unless it can be avoided and won in court. In addition, new laws are being passed often which means knowing what to do following a DUI is extremely important. Believe it or not, it is possible to have the charges reduced, obtain a DUI plea bargain, or even have the charges dismissed altogether.
First time DUI penalties in California
If you are convicted of a DUI in California and it is your first DUI offense, the penalties include:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- 3-5 years’ probation
- Fines up to $1,000
- Up to 9 months of alcohol/drug class
- Up to 10 months of license suspension, which may be changed to a restricted license
In addition to the penalties outlined above, if aggravating factors exist the penalties will be more severe. Aggravating factors in a DUI case include:
- Refusal to submit to a chemical test
- You are involved in an accident
- Children under 14 years of age are passengers in the vehicle
- You are under 21 years of age
- If someone was injured as a result of your DUI incident
To address the last point above, if someone was hurt as a result of your DUI incident the punishment can become far more serious. This offense is commonly referred to as a “wobbler” meaning that it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your case. The penalties differ depending on how it is classified.
The penalties for a misdemeanor offense include:
- Up to 5 years of probation
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Restitution – “Restitution” refers to compensating the victim or victims for the damage that was done and typically covers their economic loss as a result of the incident.
The penalties for a felony offense include:
- Up to 4 years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Additional prison time if great bodily injury occurred
- Up to 30 months of DUI school
- 3 years of habitual traffic offender status
- 5 year license revocation
Defense options for fighting a first-time DUI offense
If you or a loved one has been charged with a first DUI offense you have options. Each case is unique and has its own evidence and details that must be evaluated to determine how the defense of your case will move forward. With DUI arrests it is not uncommon for their to be errors in police procedure, chemical or field sobriety testing, or a violation of your rights that may lead to a dismissed charge. With that in mind, if you have been charged with a first-time DUI offense we invite you to contact the Law Office of Gregory W. Fox to schedule a free initial consultation where you can confidentially discuss the details of your case. We can be reached at (559) 222-5800.