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How To Go About Your 1st DUI in California

Updated: Apr 21

Beginners' Guide To DIUs in California


Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled drugs (DUI) is illegal in California, and the penalties are severe. It's important that your rights are secured by a professional California Criminal Defense Attorney who is familiar with California DUI rules, whether you've been arrested for your first DUI crime or have been down this path before.


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There are several options for successfully contesting a DUI charge, but the laws are complex and confusing. Unfortunately, you are likely to find yourself in a case you can't win if you don't hire an experienced California DUI Lawyer.


After your DUI detention, you will be given a 30-day provisional driver's license. You can be able to keep your driving rights if you mount an ignition interlock system (IID) during that 30-day timeframe. While most drivers will be able to install this unit, some will not. You may also seek an administrative per se (APS) hearing with the DMV to appeal the detention. If you do not install an IID or request a DMV hearing during the 30-day temporary license duration, your license will be automatically revoked. The IID alternative is not available if you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.


It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible following your DUI arrest to discuss your options. Since the DMV only allows ten calendar days to request a hearing, time is of the essence. With years of experience defending DUI arrests, a DUI Lawyer will easily evaluate the specifics of your arrest and inform you of your options.


The Fundamentals of California DUI Law


If you are over the age of 21, driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of.08 or higher is illegal in California. Driving a car when under the influence of medications, including prescription drugs, is also illegal if the drugs impair the ability to drive. The several "driving under the influence" code sections contained in the California Vehicle and Penal Codes apply to all of these rules. There's no such thing as a "good drunk driver" in California. If your BAC is above.08 percent (or you are under the influence of drugs), you will be charged with a DUI, even if you feel entirely sober and confident that you can drive without impairment.

It's so common for a driver gets behind the wheel after "a few drinks," convinced that he or she is fully capable of driving. Perhaps the driver is driving in a seemingly safe way, breaking no traffic laws, but is unexpectedly rear-ended by another vehicle. A passing police officer comes to a halt at the crash and detects a faint odor of alcohol on the driver's breath. Consider the case of "Dave Defendant," who recently left a promotion party feeling just slightly "buzzed."

Your 1st DUI Offense


Many people are unaware that a BAC of.08 percent does not always result in apparent intoxication. Many people believe they should drive after a few drinks and don't recognize the possibility of seeing a cop for reasons other than being pulled over for a traffic violation. California's DUI laws are stringent, and even a first-time offender will face severe penalties.

If you have been charged with DUI for the first time, you can contact a first offense California DUI Lawyer right away. In the situation described above, an experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney might be able to question the officer's fair suspicion and get the DUI charge withdrawn or argue for a lesser charge (such as a driving infraction) based on the borderline BAC.

An indictment under Vehicle Code section 23152 subdivisions (a) and (b) is typically filed after a first-time DUI detention (b). The driver's license will be confiscated, and a 30-day provisional driver license will be issued, with driving privileges being suspended 30 days after the arrest. Most DUI arrestees can now escape license suspension by installing an ignition interlock system (IID) on their car, according to the rule. The driver prevents any driving restrictions by choosing this choice within 30 days of the arrest.


Only first-time DUI offenders have the option of opting for the IID (for subsequent DUIs, it is required if they do not want their license suspended or restricted). If a first-time DUI offender chooses the IID alternative, he or she will be unable to appeal the DMV's suspension of his or her license at an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing.


Even if the first-time offender decides not to install an IID, the court will order its installation later; however, the court-ordered installation cannot last longer than six months. It's also worth noting that the IID option only applies to DUIs involving alcohol. The per se DUI rule does not apply to a driver prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs.


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If a first-time DUI offender wishes to appeal the license suspension, he or she must do so within ten days of the arrest. The hearing with the DMV is unrelated to the criminal proceedings. A DUI arrest may be questioned on the basis of the illegality of the initial stop or the arrest itself.


If the driver refuses to install an IID and/or appeals the arrest at an APS hearing and loses, his or her license will be revoked for four months 30 days after the DUI arrest. The driver can, however, apply for a restricted license after one month of suspension, which will allow limited driving to school, work, and DUI classes for a period of five months.


Penalties for a 1st DUI


A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor that can result in criminal charges in addition to administrative penalties. The result of these trials is determined by the prosecution's testimony and your California Criminal Defense Attorney's negotiating skills. A first offense DUI usually results in a plea, despite the fact that the defendant is constitutionally entitled to a trial. A professional L.A. Criminal Law Attorney will also negotiate a reduced fee or dismissal when the proof is poor, or the chemical tests are borderline.

  • Probation or incarceration.

  • A first-time DUI conviction will result in up to six months in county jail. This infrequently occurs, if at all. Instead of a prison term, the court will normally sentence the first-time offender to be informal (unsupervised) probation. The probation period for most first-time DUI offenses is three years. Although informal probation does not entail daily visits to the county probation office, it does forbid you from engaging in certain activities, most notably driving while under the influence of alcohol for the duration of your probation. Violations of a probationary period may lead to more severe consequences. Fines and damages will also be assessed by the judge.

  • DUI education.

  • A first offender with a BAC of less than 0.20 percent must engage in a three-month or longer program that includes schooling, community therapy, and individual interview sessions, according to the law. A first offender with a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher, or a first offender with a BAC of less than 0.20 percent but who declined to take a chemical test, must complete a nine-month program. Other directions, such as attendance at AA meetings, are often issued by the court.

  • Penalties raised.

  • A first-time DUI will result in harsher penalties in some circumstances. A BAC of more than.15 percent, having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, causing an accident, and reckless driving are all examples of these conditions. If you are under the age of 21 at the time of your DUI conviction, you will face harsher punishments. If you fail to take a chemical test and are convicted of DUI, you could face a 48-hour prison term as well as additional DUI education courses. Furthermore, you will be subject to a mandatory license suspension, which can be reduced from a year to six months if you install an IID.


Law on Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)


Most drivers arrested for DUI will be forced to mount an interlock ignition system, also known as an "IID," on their car beginning January 1, 2019, if they want to drive during their license suspension. Prior to the passage of this legislation, drivers arrested for DUI had their licenses suspended for a period of time before being qualified for a restricted license that allowed them to drive to and from work, school, and DUI education classes. Under the new legislation, qualifying drivers whose licenses have been revoked as a result of a DUI conviction will now apply for a restricted license without having to serve any time in jail (i.e., no driving privileges at all).


What exactly is an IID?


IIDs are small devices that a state-authorized installer installs in a car. It functions like a breathalyzer, preventing the car from starting before the driver blows into it and no alcohol is detected. These gadgets are extremely intelligent. A dashboard camera, a "rolling (or running) re-test" feature, and other mechanisms make bypassing the system difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, if a driver is caught using one of these devices to cheat, the consequences may be serious.


Who needs to have an IID?


If a driver has been arrested for a DUI offense and is eligible for a restricted license during the suspension period, they must install this system in order to drive. If there are no aggravating circumstances, this includes nearly all first-time offenders and most multiple-time offenders.


How Long Does the IID Have to Stay in the Car?


The amount of time a driver must keep an IID in his or her car is determined by the type of offense committed. First-time DUI offenders who have not caused accidents resulting in injuries while driving under the influence will opt to have an IID installed for six months and regain full driving rights without limitations during that time.


The IID must be installed prior to the suspension's effective date or within 30 days of the DUI detention. This offender still has the option of not using the IID but will only be permitted to drive for one year with limitations (a limited license). If they wish to drive, all other DUI offenders must install the IID.


First-time offenders who suffer an accident as a result of their drunk driving must wear an IID for six months or longer if the court orders it. Under court order, second-time offenders must install the device for one year, third-time offenders for two years, and fourth-time offenders for three years. A Los Angeles DUI Attorney who is familiar with the new ignition interlock system law will advise you on the provisions that apply to your specific offense.


Checkpoints for DUI


A DUI Checkpoint is inherently a breach of the Fourth Amendment because it allows the police to have fair suspicion when detaining anyone. Many civil rights organizations disagree, and many states, except California, have prohibited their use.


What would it take for a police department in California to set up a DUI checkpoint?


While each department develops its own set of guidelines, there are certain guiding principles.

  • The duration of the roadblocks must be restricted.

  • The police must give drivers the option to "escape," which means they can potentially bypass the checkpoint if they so choose.

  • The arrest should be brief and solely for the purpose of assessing sobriety.

  • The police must issue a warning that a checkpoint will be set up in a specific location.

  • The neighborhood must have a high rate of DUI arrests.


How cops figure out if anyone is inebriated


Police will conduct field sobriety tests, in which they ask a person to perform a series of physical tests in order to ascertain whether or not they have consumed alcohol. A preliminary breath test can also be done on the spot