Work with Experienced California DUI Attorneys
Even when it seems you have been “caught red-handed,” there are options for a person facing a DUI charge. The key is to have an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. You have found that in Simmons Wagner, LLP. Remember that the sooner you call us at (949) 439-5857, the sooner we can get started working for you.
The Basics: This Is What You Can Expect if You Are Charged with a DUI in California
In most cases, DUIs are charged as misdemeanors in California – but there are still harsh penalties you could face. When charged with a DUI, you should expect:
- A license suspension. The DMV is going to automatically suspend your driver’s license 30 days after your arrest unless you request a hearing with the DMV. Your attorney can help you determine if this is a good option for your case.
- Criminal proceedings. First, you will face an arraignment during which you will plead guilty or not guilty. The case will either then continue to trial, or your DUI attorney will negotiate a plea bargain.
- Defense options. There are a number of defense options that might work for your case. We might work to find holes in the evidence the prosecution has presented, we might work to show that your rights were violated during the DUI stop and therefore all evidence should not be admissible, or we might undermine the testimony of the officer who arrested you.
- If you are convicted, you could face penalties, including fines, court costs, treatment programs, suspended licenses, and more. We will cover the potential penalties below, but know that if it is your first DUI, you will likely receive lighter sentencing than if you have a DUI in the last decade.
If you have questions about these or other aspects of a DUI arrest, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 right away.
There Are Many Types of DUI Charges in California
It is common for people to assume that a DUI charge simply involves operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, but in fact, there are many different types of DUI charges, including:
- Open Container Law. It is illegal for anyone in a vehicle to consume alcohol if the car is moving – even if the person drinking is a passenger. The law considers a container “open” if it is physically open, the seal is broken, any of the contents are missing, or there is alcohol in a cup. When transporting alcohol, it is best to keep it in the trunk.
- Misdemeanor DUI. Most DUI charges are misdemeanors, but consequences can still be considerable.
- Felony DUI. If there are certain “aggravating factors” present in a DUI case, it can be charged as a felony. This includes three or more DUI charges (or wet reckless) in the last decade, injury or death to someone else while you were driving under the influence and a previous felony DUI conviction.
- Zero Tolerance. A person under the age of 21 cannot legally drive if they have any alcohol in their system. If they are found to have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while driving, they can lose their license for a year, spend time in jail, be required to complete DUI school, and spend as long as five years on DUI probation, amongst other penalties.
- Manslaughter DUI. If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and gets into an accident in which someone is killed, they can be charged with manslaughter DUI.
- High BAC. When a person’s BAC measures .15 or higher, they can face sentencing enhancements.
- Commercial Driver’s License and DUI. For most drivers, the legal BAC limit is .08, but for a person who has a commercial diver’s license (CDL), the limit is .04. If someone is convicted of a DUI while they hold a CDL (even if the DUI occurred while they were driving their own vehicle and were not working), they can face additional penalties.
- Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License. If a person does not have a valid driver’s license and is convicted of a DUI, they could face additional penalties.
- Possession of Alcohol in a Vehicle by a Person Under 21. It is a misdemeanor in the state of California for a person under the age of 21 to have alcohol in their vehicle – whether they are the driver or the passenger.
At Simmons Wagner, LLP, we can help with any of these DUI offenses.
The Potential Penalties for DUI Convictions in California
The basic penalties outlined below all assume that no one was hurt or killed during the DUI.
First DUI Offense Minimum Penalties
- Minimum fine of $390 plus additional assessments paid to the government. The average total is around $1800.
- 48 hours in jail. It is possible to get this waived, but that will increase the license suspension by 90 days.
- License suspension. The specific length will vary, but you can assume that you will have your license suspended for at least four months, which includes 90 days for the criminal penalties and 30 days from the DMV. Some people will see license suspensions of up to a year.
- Three months of alcohol treatment is generally required, and this typically costs around $500.
Note that these are only the minimum penalties. Maximum penalties could result in fines of up to $3600, up to six months in jail, and much longer requirements for alcohol treatment and license suspension. You could also have your vehicle impounded for 30 days – at your expense. The judge might also require you to pay to have an interlock device installed on your vehicle.
Second Offense DUI Minimum Penalties
- The same fines as the first offense for a total of around $1800.
- 96 hours in jail.
- License suspension for at last one year and restricted driving for two years, which means you can only drive to work and alcohol treatment.
- 18-month or 30-month alcohol treatment, which costs $1800 and is mandatory.
- Interlock devices installed on all vehicles at your expense.
Again, these are minimum penalties. You could see fines of as much as $4000, a year in jail, and license suspension of as long as two years and two years of restricted driving. Your vehicle could be impounded for 30 days at your expense.
Third and Subsequent DUI Minimum Penalties
- Around $1800 in total fines and fees.
- 120 days in jail for a third offense or 180 days in jail for a fourth offense.
- Three years driver’s license revocation for a third offense and four years revocation for a fourth offense, with no restricted driving privileges.
- A 30-month alcohol treatment program for a cost of $1800.
The maximum penalties could include up to $18,000 in fines, up to a year in jail for a third offense and up to 16 months in state prison for a fourth offense, and 90 days of impoundment for your vehicle (at your expense) or the state could take it entirely.
Work with an Experienced DUI Attorney Who Can Help You
Does this information scare you? Does it seem dire? The good news is that there are defense options and you are not in this alone. To find out how we can help you fight this charge, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP now at (949) 439-5857.