Comprehensive Guide to a First-Time DUI in California



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What Happens if You Get a DUI for the First Time in California?


You are typically a safe and responsible driver, but perhaps you over-indulged for whatever reason. If you are caught driving under the influence, the law doesn’t care why you did it. You will likely face the full force of the law.

Drunk driving is a major issue that occurs every day in California and across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published that in 2020, 11,654 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths. This is equivalent to one person every 51 minutes.

If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI in California, you will face serious penalties. You may benefit from the legal advice and advocacy of a skilled attorney from a reputable firm, such as Rebecca Feigelson Law. Their experience and knowledge can potentially reduce or dismiss your charges and minimize the consequences of a DUI conviction.

What Happens if You Are Stopped for DUI in California?

If a police officer stops you in California, they may have reasonable cause to think you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For example, if you’re swerving between lanes or running red lights and stop signs, you become a suspect in their eyes. With reasonable cause, they will conduct a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test.

If you fail these tests, you will be arrested for DUI and taken into custody. After your arrest, you must go through a series of legal and administrative proceedings.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:

  1. Booking and Bail: You will be booked into the local jail after your arrest. You may be released on bail, which is a financial guarantee that you will appear in court for future proceedings.
  2. DMV Hearing: A DMV hearing is an administrative process separate from the criminal court proceedings. A DMV hearing officer will review the evidence and determine whether your driving privileges should be suspended. Remember, a skilled DUI defense attorney can represent you in this hearing and possibly save your license.
  3. Court Arraignment: At the arraignment, you will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the DUI charges.
  4. Trial: If you plead not guilty, your case will go to trial. Your attorney will challenge the prosecution’s evidence to create reasonable doubt about your guilt.
  5. Sentencing: If you are convicted, the court will impose a sentence, including fines, probation, DUI school, and possibly jail time.

Notably, if you have prior DUI convictions, these steps can become increasingly complex and the penalties more severe. Having a skilled DUI defense attorney by your side is invaluable in such cases.

What Is the Penalty for a California First-Time DUI?

A first-time offender is considered to be someone with no prior DUI or drug offenses on their record. The penalties for a first-time drunk driving arrest in California can be severe and can include:

  • Fines and penalties of $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments

  • Informal DUI probation for three to five years

  • Possible jail time for up to six months

  • License suspension of six months to one year

  • DUI classes for 18 months

  • Community service for 30 hours

  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for three years

If you have received a misdemeanor DUI and need to attend your DMV hearing about your driver’s license suspension, DUI lawyers may be able to provide the information and advocacy you need.

What Are Additional Punishments for a First-Time Dui in CA?

Depending on the county in which you receive your first DUI conviction, you may receive additional unexpected penalties. These could consist of any combination of the following:

  • Work release
  • Mandatory DUI programs bay area
  • Mandatory attendance at a victim impact panel
  • Restricted license
  • Increased car insurance premiums
  • Harsher penalties for any subsequent DUI conviction

One of the first things you need to consider doing after a DUI arrest, even if it is a first-offense DUI, is to consult with a local law firm. Your DUI attorneys can provide an overview of DUI penalties and could help you avoid DUI charges.

What Happens to First-Time DUI Offenses in California and Red Light?

In California, a first-time DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor offense, and it will be dealt with according to the legal statutes.

Is a First-Time DUI a Felony in California?

Since a first-time DUI is considered to be a misdemeanor in California, it is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A DUI only becomes a felony when the driver has either had three prior DUIs or has caused serious bodily injury or death during the DUI.

How Much Jail Time for First DUI in California?

A first DUI in California is a serious offense, and you need to be aware of the consequences. You will likely have to pay a fine or go to jail. The amount of jail time depends on the severity of your DUI.

The first DUI offense in California can be punishable by up to six months in jail. The second DUI offense carries up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. A third DUI offense can lead to up to three years in prison and a $4,000 fine.


What Is the Minimum Probation for a California First-Time DUI?

California’s minimum probation for a first-time DUI is three years. This stiffens the potential penalties of any subsequent infractions during that time.

How to Beat a First DUI in California

Under California DUI laws, the punishments for a first-time DUI are severe. In addition to fines and jail time, your license will be suspended for up to one year.

To beat a first-time DUI, you should consider hiring a skilled DUI defense attorney who practices defending these cases. The following are some of the things that an experienced lawyer may do:

  • Try to get your case dismissed
  • Offer a plea bargain where they would agree to reduce or drop your charges if you plead guilty
  • Present mitigating evidence on your behalf, such as an addiction or mental health issue

The attorney will represent you at your trial and help you fight the charges against you. They will also help negotiate with the prosecutor and judge if necessary.

How Can an Attorney Help Someone With a First DUI in California?

The services offered by a DUI lawyer include handling all the legalities associated with a DUI. Besides representing you in court, we can direct you to the nearest alcohol rehabilitation center and answer any other questions you may have about DUI law.

We will ensure that you do not incriminate yourself, that any evidence that should not be used against you is thrown out of court, and that your rights are upheld throughout the trial.

Learn more About Rebecca Feigelson Law and begin developing a strong attorney-client relationship.

What Is the Cost of a First-Time Drunk Driving Arrest in California?

The fines for a first-time DUI in CA vary depending on the circumstances but are typically between $10,000 and $15,000. If you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time, you will face serious penalties that include fines and jail time, as well as higher insurance rates and possible loss of your driver’s license.


Do You Lose Your License for a First DUI in CA?

The answer is no. A first DUI in California is considered a misdemeanor and not a felony. Therefore, you are not likely to lose your license for this offense.

However, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, and it is your second offense, then you will lose your license for at least 6 months. If it’s the third time or more, you will lose your license for at least one year.