What To Expect From A First DUI Offense In California

While the temporary license is valid for 30 days following arrest, it is crucial that you realize you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request the APS hearing. Failure to request the APS hearing within 10 days of the date of arrest will result in the loss of the right to fight the license suspension. The driver’s license will automatically become suspended 30 days following arrest.

DMV License Suspension

Immediately upon arrest for a DUI (driving under the influence) offense, your driver’s license will be confiscated by the arresting officer and you will be issued an Administrative Per Se (APS) Notice of Suspension & Temporary Driver License.   The notice will act to inform you that your license will be suspended 30 days after arrest, that you have a right to an APS hearing to fight the suspension, and the paper will serve as your temporary driver’s license.  Make sure to read the notice carefully as it contains pertinent information regarding California DUI law.   The most critical information listed is the need to contact the local Driver’s Safety Office within 10 days of arrest to request an APS hearing.

While the temporary license is valid for 30 days following arrest, it is crucial that you realize you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request the APS hearing.  Failure to request the APS hearing within 10 days of the date of arrest will result in the loss of the right to fight the license suspension.  The driver’s license will automatically become suspended 30 days following arrest.

On a first offense, you are facing a 4 month license suspension as a result of failure to request an APS hearing, or unsuccessful determination of the APS hearing.  After 30 days of a hard suspension, you are eligible to apply for a restricted license which would allow you to drive to a from work, during the course of work, and to and from an alcohol program.  Should you choose to get the restricted license, it will remain in effect for 5 months.  In order to be eligible for the restricted license, you must file an SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) with the DMV, in addition to providing proof of enrollment in the AB-541 first offender alcohol program, and paying a $125.00 reissue fee to the DMV.

Court Process

Following your arrest for driving under the influence, the arresting officer forwards his/her arrest report to the local prosecuting agency.  The prosecuting agency will have a charging deputy review the report and decide which charges, if any, should be filed.  The charges are typically filed via complaint.  Most DUI cases are filed as a misdemeanor.  Should your matter be filed as a misdemeanor, many times your DUI defense lawyer can appear in Court on your behalf without you being present.

Your first court appearance is known as the arraignment.  At this appearance, you will be provided with a copy of the complaint which lists the charges against you, in addition to receiving a copy of the discovery.  In most circumstances, a plea of  “not guilty” will be entered and your matter will be set for a pretrial hearing.  Sometimes a qualified DUI defense attorney will believe it is in your best interest to simply continue the arraignment to a new Court date.

At the pretrial hearing, your experienced DUI defense attorney will negotiate your matter with the prosecutor.  Your matter may be set for several pretrial appearances.  During the pretrial process, your skilled DUI lawyer will decide if any additional discovery needs to be requested, and if any pretrial motions should be filed.  After a complete review of all of the discovery on your matter and lengthy negotiations with the prosecutor, your DUI defense lawyer will provide you with a recommendation.  That recommendation may be to enter into a negotiated plea with the prosecutor’s office, and other times that recommendation may be to take your case to trial.

Penalties

Probation– You will be on summary (informal) probation for a period of 3 to 5 years.  You will not have to report to a probation officer; however, if you violate any terms of your probation you will be ordered to appear back in Court and will be sentenced to additional penalties on this offense.

Jail Time– A first offense requires a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 6 months in jail. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may not have to serve jail time.

Fines and Fees– A DUI conviction requires a minimum fine of $390 to a maximum fine of $1,000. The fine is subject to a penalty assessment in addition to further court costs.  The minimum fine on a DUI conviction is approximately $1800 with all fees included.  Many counties offer payment plans, other counties allow you time to pay the fine in full.  Sometimes serving time in custody or performing community service is possible to pay off the majority of the fine.

Alcohol Program– You will be required to attend an alcohol program.  Your blood alcohol concentration will determine which class length you will be required to attend.  The classes range in length between 3 months and 9 months.  If your blood alcohol level is below .15% then you most likely will be ordered to attend the 3 month program.  If your blood alcohol level is between .15% and .19% then the 6 month class could be requested.  Furthermore, if your blood alcohol content is .20% or higher, you will be required to attend the 9 month program.

MADD Victim Impact Panel– Many times you will be required to attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel.  This is a one-time event that lasts approximately 2.5 hours and you listen to people speak about the dangers of drinking and driving.

License Suspension– Following a DUI conviction in Court, the Court will send an abstract the DMV notifying them of your conviction.  The DMV will suspend your license for 6 months.  Not withstanding any administrative actions, you will be eligible to receive a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work, during the course of work, and to and from an alcohol program.

Remember, there are a number of sentence enhancements that could result in increased penalties. The above is simply a guide on what minimum penalties to expect. Contact the DUI Professor for a full case evaluation.  Hiring an attorney will not only give you peace of mind regarding professional representation, but it will also provide you with the necessary information to understand both the Court and DMV processes. The California Court system is a labyrinth of details and processes that are constantly changing, and it can be a nightmare for those unfamiliar to navigate.  Contact Attorney Kellee Parker, the DUI Professor, to protect your rights, and provide you with the compassionate and personalized legal representation that you deserve!