Things You Must Know About A First Time DUI In California

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Each state in the United States has its unique rules and regulations that dictate how they manage Driving Under the Influence (hereinafter “DUI”) cases. California is oftentimes regarded as one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to DUI offenses. Even a first time DUI offense comes with severe minimum penalties and fines. While some of the disciplinary action may begin as soon as a driver fails a field sobriety test, other repercussions may potentially even lead to a criminal conviction for felony DUI. Continue reading this article to learn about the things you must know about a first time DUI offense in California.

What Is Considered A First Offense DUI In California?

As one might assume, if you have never been convicted of a DUI in California before, then this will be your first offense. In California, DUIs are generally counted as a prior offense for ten years. Meaning, after the ten year period, if a driver has not reoffended, the DUI conviction “disappears,” in regards to whether the current DUI is a second or subsequent offense. Essentially, if you have not been convicted of a DUI within the past ten years, this will likely be considered a first offense DUI. Separately, it should be noted that California treats DUI cases that involve non-motor differently than DUI cases that involve motor vehicles.

What Criminal Penalties May A First Time DUI Offender Face?

Typically, a first time DUI conviction in California will result in a misdemeanor. Along with the misdemeanor, the driver may also face financial repercussions, usually in the form of thousands of dollars in fines and penalty assessments. The driver could also be put on probation, which is generally a three to five year period, with no jail time required. Despite this being the usual repercussions a first time DUI offender faces, depending on the facts of the case, a judge may choose to impose a jail sentence of up to six months, even for a first-time offense.

Are There Any Additional Repercussions For A First Time DUI Offense?

In addition to potential criminal penalties, there are administrative repercussions you may face if you allegedly commit a first time DUI offense. In California, if you have been chemically tested and the results show that you have a .08% or higher blood alcohol concentration and you were lawfully arrested for a first offense DUI, you will be issued an Order of Suspension/Revocation by the officer; blood Alcohol Concentration is the percent of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. At the scene of the arrest, the officer will also take your driver’s license to the DMV, where it will be destroyed. Additionally, you will be given a temporary driver’s license, which will be valid for 30 days from the issue date. If by the end of this 30 day period the officer does not serve you with an Order of Suspension/Revocation, the DMV will mail you one. In the event that you find yourself in this situation, you have one of two choices: (1) fight the charge, or (2) accept the consequences.

Click here to learn more about California DUI rules and regulations, potential driver’s license reinstatement, and your rights under a restricted driver’s license.