QUESTION: “What the #$%^% is the court going to do to me if I am convicted of a California DUI Conviction? I've been reading a lot of scary stuff online and I want to know what's in store for me. What kind of penalties can the court impose upon me?”
ANSWER: Classes, fines, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Ignition Interlock, two points on your driving record, and a drivers license suspension.
In California, if you are convicted of a DUI, you will likely face several punishments. In fact, a California DUI defendant is likely going to be placed on probation of three or more years. As part of probation, there will be certain conditions to obey. Many of these conditions are imposed in every single case while others can be specific to the facts of that particular defendant's case.
The most common terms of probation for a time California DUI conviction will be: a fine, license suspension, DUI program, jail, and various other terms depending on the jurisdiction. If any of the California DUI conditions are not complied with, the court could issue an arrest warrant (for a probation violation) and have the Sheriff come to your home or work to arrest you. Some counties go after violators much more than others. However, it is important not to procrastinate warrant issues as most of the terms can be broken down in manageable pieces and complied with one at a time to avoid any probation violations.
The fine in a standard first offense DUI will come out to around two thousand dollars after penalty assessments. However, this number slightly varies depending on the County where you are convicted. In most instances, the court will allow you to pay this in installments. However, they will charge you a service fee and they can issue a warrant if you are late to pay. You must make sure to specifically ask the court to make payments or you could be required to pay that day. It is extremely important not to fall behind on your fine payments, even by a single day, as the court can take on more fines and fees, as well as potentially issue a warrant for your arrest.
In California DUI convictions and arrests, there is almost always a license suspension by the California DMV. This is typically a six month suspension with no driving for 30 days. For the remainder of the suspension we can help you obtain a provisional restricted license through the DMV, which allows you to drive to work and home. However, if your case did not involved a standard first DUI, there are additional suspensions of up to 4 years related to California DUI's. The most common reason for a lengthened suspension is if the defendant refused to take a blood or breath test at all. While the odds are steep on a California DMV hearing, conducting the hearing is absolutely worthwhile. Even if the DMV issues a suspension, we have the opportunity cross-example the police in order to poke holes in the district attorney's case.
The court is likely going to require you to attend and complete a DUI education class. If the court doesn't do this, the DMV will. This is because you cannot get your license back after the above-mentioned suspension unless you take the appropriate DUI class. The class can range from 12 weeks to 30 months. The most common class for a first offender is the three month class. A typical three month DUI class meets once a week for three hours. However, if you had a higher blood alcohol level, you could be required to take the 6-month class or 9 month class.
Any time there is a DUI arrest, there is the potential for jail time. For a standard first offense, there is 48 hours required jail time. However, this can be converted to work for the Sheriff instead of custody time. The maximum sentence for a first California DUI is 6 months in the county jail. There are many factors that can increase the punishment, including, but not limited to, if you had a minor in the vehicle at the time, were speeding or driving recklessly, had attempted to run, had a high blood alcohol level (BAC), were under the influence of other drugs, were involved in an accident, were uncooperative, or had committed additional traffic violations.
There has been a strong push for the installation of the ignition interlock device (IID) after DUI convictions. At this point, an IID is not required on all 1st offense DUI's. However, the court can require this as a term of probation. Further, the state of California has been experimenting with requiring the IID on all 1st offense cases. Currently there are a small handful of test counties (including Alameda County DUI's) where the IID is mandatory and there is no way out of this. Contact a California DUI attorney to determine if your county is a test county because you will need to save up for the installation fee which can run around $750 to $1,000.
After a DUI conviction, you are required to take out additional insurance because you are now classified as a heightened risk on the road. SR22 insurance will be required for 3 years after a DUI conviction.This insurance can be purchased through most major insurance carriers and can be extremely costly depending on how this is set up (whether you have full coverage vs. liability only, etc.) It is best to contact an insurance associate for more information or speak with a California DUI lawyer because most DUI attorneys have contacts with insurance agents who can save you some money.
The court has the power to order many other terms in and each California DUI will have different terms depending on the exact facts of the case. Often the court will require that you do not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system. Further, the courts also can forbid you from being a patron where alcohol is the primary item being sold. Finally, the court can require that you submit to a chemical test given to you by any peace officer, day or night.
OBEY ALL LAWS
In 99% of the DUI cases that I personally handle, the judge requires that the defendant obey all laws. This sounds silly because you have to obey the laws anyhow. However, the court does this because they can violate your probation for any violation of the law. Technically this means they could violate your probation for a simple speeding ticket.” When you are on probation, it is crucial to make sure that you live a squaky clean life. That's because you are only one small mistake from being back in court, and likely with a very unsympathetic judge.