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What is the penalty for a first-time DUI offense in California?

| Aug 11, 2020 | DUI |

When California’s current stay-at-home order ends, you may feel like you need a night out to celebrate. You could meet up with friends at your favorite bar or restaurant and enjoy a few craft beers or cocktails. When you head home for the night, you may not realize you have had a few drinks too many and police pull you over and cite you for a DUI. What? How did this happen? What should you do now?

First-time DUI offense consequences

When you are facing a first-time DUI charge, you likely are worried about what the consequences of a conviction are. California has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. So that means as long as you weren’t driving drunk and caused an accident that harmed someone, you will likely face:

  • An approximate $2,000 fine
  • No jail
  • A 30-day license suspension with the DMV followed by a restricted license
  • A first offender alcohol education program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

You will have tougher consequences if you did cause an accident that injured someone else or your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .16 (twice the legal limit) or higher.

Further DUI offenses

Not surprisingly, you will be required to serve jail time if this is your second or third DUI offense within 10 years.  For a second offense, the state can suspend your license for two years and a third offense can lead to a three-year suspension.

Getting an attorney’s help

It’s always a good idea to seek out the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when you are facing a DUI conviction. An attorney can review your case to see if police administered your breath test correctly or if the machine wasn’t properly calibrated. You may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed with the right defense, saving you money, avoiding time in jail and a license suspension. You don’t want a DUI to end up on your permanent record, possibly hindering future employment prospects and more.