The Legal Process After Your First DUI Offense

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Know your rights in the California criminal justice system

A DUI charge may be the first and only time you ever deal with the criminal justice system. An arrest is a frightening experience and your anticipation of the long road ahead can be unnerving.  We describe the criminal justice process and penalties you face for a first DUI offense. By educating you on these important matters, we prepare you and empower you during this difficult time.

Penalties for a first DUI

Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. Potential DUI penalties for a misdemeanor first conviction include:

  • Confinement in county jail
  • Fines and penalty assessments of approximately $2,000
  • Informal probation of three to five years
  • Three, nine, or twelve month alcohol and/or drug education program
  • Four or six months of driver's license suspension

Factors that can lead to stiffer DUI penalties

California laws are strict on even a first offender. In addition, you may be subject to harsher penalties or your charge may be upgraded to a felony because of aggravating circumstances, such as:

  • You were accused of causing an accident that resulted in injuries
  • You were involved in a fatal accident
  • A child was in the car with you while you were allegedly driving drunk
  • You registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.15 percent
  • You refused blood or breath testing after being arrested

Also, if you have no prior DUIs, but you do have wet reckless driving convictions on your record within the last 10 years, your charge will be considered a second or third offense depending on how many priors you have.

Topics:  Driver's License Suspensions, DUI

Published In: Criminal Law Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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