For many people, a first-time DUI arrest is typically the first arrest ever. This type of situation can be frightening, stressful, and confusing. Since knowing is half the battle, you need to understand the potential consequences you may experience and to protect your rights and future.
If you are arrested and subsequently fail a chemical test, the police officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue you a temporary license that is valid for 30 days upon being issued.
If you wish to contest the license suspension, you have 10 calendar days from your DUI arrest to request a DMV hearing. If you fail to request a DMV hearing, or receive a negative decision, the DMV will uphold your suspension.
Keep in mind, after completing a 30-day hard suspension—which is part of the four-month suspension—you may be eligible to apply for a restrictive license. A restricted license enables you to drive to, from, and for work and an education DUI program. In order to get a restricted license, you need to enroll in a DUI program, provide the SR-22, and pay a license reissue fee.
Most first-time DUI offenders are required to complete a 30-hour program lasting three months. But if you BAC was .20% or higher, you must complete a 60-hour class that lasts nine months.
Completely separate from the administrative process, the courts handle the criminal process. In general, a first DUI conviction in California is considered a misdemeanor.
If convicted of a first-time DUI, the penalties include the following:
- Jail term between two days and six months
- DUI probation for three to five years.
- A fine ranging from $390 to $1,000.
- License suspension for up to six months.
- Attend support group or victim impact programs.
A DUI will stay on your record for ten years. Your DUI can also have a negative impact on various aspects of your life, employment, education, and housing.
If you have been arrested or charged with DUI, it is in your best interest to retain legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. The criminal penalties above only exist if you are convicted of a DUI, so having a good lawyer on your side may help you win your case or get your DUI reduced to a less serious offense.