First offense DUI penalties

Many persons mistakenly think that first offense penalties are all the same and/or are minimal.  Both notions are false.  Please call DUI attorney Mark Blair who has successfully helped thousands of persons in the Bay area who were arrested for a DUI.   If you have been arrested for a first offense DUI, DUI lawyer Mark Blair wants to help you avoid a DUI and all the following consequences.

First offense DUIs are punished by probation, jail (or work in lieu of jail), a fine and attendance at a DUI class.  Additional punishment can include denial of a restricted license, the installation of an interlock device, and the impoundment of the vehicle.  Penalties of a first offense depend on many factors, and as a result, are not the same for everyone.  Penalties can vary based on alcohol level, driving factors, conduct after the stop, and past driving/criminal records.

Probation is a period of time following a conviction in court in which a person’s freedom is limited.  The limitations include do not driving without a valid license or insurance during the probation period, do not driving with any measurable amount of alcohol during probation, and submitting to a chemical test if arrested for a suspected DUI.  In most DUI cases, “probation” does not mean having a probation officer.  If a person violates probation, the person is subject to up to the maximum sentence the DUI carries.  For a first offense DUI, the maximum sentence is 180 days (six months) of actual jail.   The minimum probation period for a DUI is three years; the maximum is five years.

An interlock device or “IID” is an apparatus into which the driver must exhale before the engine will start.  Any presence of any alcohol will prevent the engine from starting and result in a report being generated to both the Department of Motor Vehicles and the court.  Detection of alcohol would potentially result in a violation of probation in court as well as potentially a license suspension going into effect with the DMV.

A DUI fine, at first glance, ranges between $390 and $1000.  I write “at first glance”, because the typical DUI fine is much, much higher.  The law allows each county to use a multiplier to generate additional fine revenue.  The typical $390 fine is tripled with the use of the multiplier ($1170).  Then the law requires additional amounts to be added: $132 restitution fine fee (all persons convicted of a misdemeanor pay into a fund for victims of crimes); $40 for a court operations fee; $30 for a criminal conviction assessment fee;$10 or $25 citation fee; and a $4 helicopter fee to airlift victims to a hospital.  You can see the fines and other items quickly add up to a lot: $390 plus $1170 ($390 tripled) plus $132 plus $40 plus $30 plus $10 or $25 plus $4 equals at least $1776 (I used a $10 rather than a $25 citation fee).

Jail or work in lieu of jail is required. The law requires a minimum of two days of jail or work in lieu of jail.  The time that a person receives, either as jail or work in lieu of jail, depends on many factors.  As a result, time is not the same for every.  Alcohol level, driving factors, conduct after the stop, and past driving/criminal records all can increase the jail or work in lieu of jail that a person must serve.

Alcohol levels can greatly impact the severity of punishment.  Prosecutors routinely file “enhancements”, requests to a judge for additional penalties, if a driver’s alcohol level reaches or exceeds .15% or .20%.   Prosecutors and judges routinely try to increase, often substantially, the jail or work in lieu of jail time that a person faces because of a high alcohol level.  Such levels can also result in a judge requiring the installation of an interlock device during some or all of the period of probation.

Driving factors also influence how much jail or work a person receives.  Driving factors include non injury accidents, injury accidents, child or children passengers, high speed, reckless driving or other driving perceived as being dangerous (e.g. going the wrong way down a freeway at 60MPH).  Some minimum penalties are mandates by law: each child under 14 years old as a passenger adds time that a person faces.  High speed/reckless driving adds a 60 day jail enhancement.  An accident with injuries could even be a felony, with state prison as punishment.

A person’s conduct after being stopped by police can impact punishment.  For example, if a person is combative with police or refuses to take a chemical test after being lawfully arrested, that person may face additional punishment.

A person’s past record, driving and/or criminal, also plays a role in punishment.  If a person has a prior DUI over 10 years old, the judge can still consider this prior for purposes of punishment.

First offense DUI punishment is much more severe than most persons initially imagine.  Because of the far ranging consequences of a DUI, a person arrested for a first offense DUI should immediately seek the services of a competent lawyer like Mark Blair. Mark offers a free, confidential and informative consultation during which he will review the facts of your case, the applicable law, the potential ways of avoiding a DUI and the consequences that your facts may carry if you are convicted of a DUI.  Please call Mark immediately for a consultation!