Protecting First-Time Offenders from Severe Penalties
Like many other states, California takes DUI offenses very seriously. Even first-time offenders can face penalties like jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension. A DUI conviction stays on your criminal record for life, making it difficult to secure housing, find a job, or apply to educational institutions. Fortunately, with a criminal defense attorney on your side, you can reduce or remove the penalties you are facing.
Many first-time DUI offenders believe they can negotiate with police officers or the prosecution on their own. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is harsh on all DUI charges, even if this is a first-offense DUI conviction. It is very likely that without representation, you will face the maximum penalties for your DUI charges.
At the DUI Defense Group, our attorneys are dedicated to representing clients and protecting their rights. Our law firm focuses solely on DUI and other traffic-related cases, so we are confident we can assist you. We understand just how overwhelming and frightening it can be to face your first DUI arrest on your own. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today by calling 866-927-3295 for a free consultation.
How Does California Define DUI Offenses?
California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Anyone under the age of 21 who is caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01% or above can be charged with an underage DUI. Underage DUIs typically carry no jail time but come with other penalties like fines, community service, and mandatory drug and alcohol school.
Drivers of any age are required to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or below. If anyone is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above, they can be charged with a DUI. Similarly, driving under the influence of drugs, whether they are illegal or prescription, can also lead to a DUI arrest. Any substance that impacts the ability to operate a vehicle safely can lead to DUI charges.
In most cases, law enforcement officers will use a breath test to determine an individual’s BAC before they are arrested or detained. Breath tests are administered with a breathalyzer. Once an individual is arrested or detained, their BAC will be measured again using a blood test. Blood tests measure the alcohol in a person’s system plus any drugs in their system.
What Happens After a First Offense DUI in California?
If you are arrested for drunk driving, there will likely be a few things that happen. Your license will be immediately confiscated, and you may be issued a restricted license. If you are not given a restricted license, you cannot drive any motor vehicle until your license is reinstated.
You will then get a notification of a possible DMV suspension. You can file this notice alongside your provisional license. The police will then notify the DMV. A DMV hearing officer will review your information and could suspend your driving privileges.
If your driving privileges are suspended, you can request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest. A DMV hearing allows you to present evidence in your defense to get your driver’s license suspension overturned. You can also ask the DMV to issue you a provisional license with restricted privileges, like the ability to drive to and from work or school. The outcome of a DMV hearing has no bearing on whether you will be convicted of your DUI charges.
During a DUI arrest, it is essential to maintain your composure and avoid saying or doing anything that could influence your case. You are required to identify yourself to any law enforcement officer, but you have the right to consult an attorney before or during any police interviews. Always ask to call a member of our team as soon as possible to protect your rights after an arrest.
How Many Points Go on Your License After a First DUI Offense?
In California, a point system tracks how many traffic infractions every individual has had. After a certain number of points within a specific timeframe, individuals have their California driver’s license revoked. Different traffic infractions are assigned different point values based on their severity and danger.
Two points are added to your driver’s license record for a DUI conviction. If you get four points on your license within one year, your license will be revoked. Our defense attorneys can help you defend yourself from a DUI conviction to avoid these penalties and more.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a First Offense DUI?
First-offense DUI charges are typically misdemeanor charges in California. The potential penalties under California DUI laws depend on how old you are, the type of offense, and other factors.
Below are the most common penalties you may face for a first-time DUI conviction:
- Up to six months in jail
- Four months of a driver’s license suspension
- Up to $10,000 in fines and court fees
- Mandatory three-month DUI education program
- Community service
A first-time DUI conviction doesn’t automatically result in a suspended driver’s license. However, if you do not ask for a DMV hearing or if you lose the hearing, your license will be suspended. Even if this is your first DUI case, you only have ten days after your DUI arrest to request a hearing. A DUI attorney on our team can help you request this hearing and also represent you before the DMV.
If you are convicted in your DUI case, your license could be suspended for a longer period of time, even if you win your DMV hearing. The specific timeframe of your license suspension depends on the nature of your charges and the circumstances of your arrest.
Can a First-Time Offender Qualify for a Diversion Program?
Diversion programs are made for first-time, non-violent offenders. Diversion programs typically involve some form of educational program plus a community service program that must be completed within a specific timeframe. Offenders can apply for these programs to avoid jail time. In most cases, after a diversion program is completed, the drunk driving charges are reduced or dismissed.
For standard first-time misdemeanor DUI charges, most offenders are eligible to apply for a diversion program. Your DUI charges must not involve any serious injuries or death of another person.
Eligibility for these programs depends on your specific blood alcohol level and whether you have any prior DUI convictions. Felony DUI charges and DUI charges involving injury or death are not eligible for diversion. An experienced DUI defense lawyer on our team can help you determine if you are eligible for a diversion program.
In some cases, if offenders can plead guilty to a lesser charge, they will receive a restricted license. Restricted licenses allow offenders to drive to work or DUI school. A DUI attorney on our team will help you navigate your options after a drunk driving arrest. Call us today to receive a free consultation.
What Are the Potential Defense Strategies for a First-Time DUI Offense?
DUI charges can be frightening, especially if you have no prior convictions on your record. Fortunately, a DUI defense attorney on our team can strategize and create a legal defense plan to reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. While your specific defense strategy will depend on the nature of your charges and your arrest, there are some common defense strategies our team may choose from.
Below are the most common defense strategies for a first-time DUI offense:
Lack of Probable Cause
Law enforcement officers must have probable cause to pull you over on suspected drunk driving charges. Typically, probable cause involves swerving, braking excessively, driving erratically, or other dangerous behavior. If the prosecution cannot prove that you were driving dangerously before police officers pulled you over, our team can argue that your detainment was unlawful.
Breath and blood test results are used to prove your blood alcohol content levels at the time of your arrest. However, breathalyzer and chemical test results can be faulty or inaccurate, leading to inaccurate results. Our team can argue that your test results are incorrect, meaning the prosecution has no evidence against you.
Police Procedure Errors
Police officers are required to follow strict procedural steps when making an arrest or detaining someone. If your rights were violated in any way, our team will argue that the case against you is faulty and cannot be pursued in court.
Certain medical issues, like GERD and diabetes, can impact the results of a BAC test. If you have any medical conditions that could impact a blood alcohol test, our team will present medical evidence in your defense to avoid severe penalties.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a DUI Charge?
Even if it is your first DUI offense, you could still face jail time, fines, and a license suspension. Having a DUI conviction on your record can impact your life in many ways and could even lead to a license revocation in the future. While it may seem logical to defend yourself or negotiate with law enforcement officers on your own, it is unlikely that you will get the outcome you deserve without a legal defense team on your side.
The DUI defense attorneys at the DUI Defense Group are here to assist you with your DUI charges. We understand just how challenging it can be to face such severe consequences for a simple mistake. We are confident that with our background and legal experience, we can work with you to reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. For a free consultation and to speak to a member of our team, contact our office today by calling 866-927-3295.