Penalties for First-Time California DUI Offenders

Police, lawmakers, and judges take California DUIs very seriously. To discourage people from engaging in drunk driving, California lawmakers have enacted a strict set of penalties that escalates with each prior conviction for DUI. However, even first-time California DUI offenders can face significant penalties.

There are two categories of penalties that can be imposed on those who have been charged with a California DUI offense: administrative and criminal penalties. Administrative penalties most notably involve the suspension of a defendant’s driving privileges. Typically, when a driver is arrested for a California DUI, their license will be revoked, and they will be issued a temporary restricted license. This license will naturally expire at the end of 30 days, unless the driver requests a hearing. This may result in the driver’ privileges being reinstated for limited purposes only, pending final resolution of the case.

Importantly, the administrative consequences of a DUI arrest occur regardless of whether the driver is actually convicted of the offense. Separate from the administrative consequences of a DUI arrest are the criminal penalties that will be imposed by the court. Some penalties will only be assessed if a driver is found guilty of a California DUI offense.

As noted above, punishments for a California DUI offense escalate after each offense. For first-time offenders, penalties include:

  • A period of incarceration ranging between 96 hours and six months;
  • Fines and court costs;
  • A mandatory term of probation ranging between three to five years;
  • At least 30 hours of program activities, program activities, including education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions; and
  • Other conditions of probation the court deems appropriate such as remaining alcohol-free or staying away from certain individuals.

In addition to the administrative and criminal punishments for a California DUI, there are also collateral consequences that come along with any criminal conviction. Collateral consequences refer to the repercussions that a conviction will have on a defendant’s life that are not prescribed by statute. For example, people convicted of a DUI offense may not be eligible for certain jobs and their auto insurance rates will likely increase.

While most of the criminal and administrative punishments for a California DUI are mandatory, it is important to note that many of these punishments involve a range of options, and it is up to the discretion of the sentencing judge to determine what sentence a defendant receives. Thus, it is essential for anyone facing a first-time California DUI offense to retain a dedicated and experienced California DUI defense attorney to assist in their defense.

Are You Looking for a California DUI Attorney?

If you have recently been arrested for a California DUI, contact the Law Offices of John W. Noonan for assistance. Attorney Noonan is a dedicated California criminal defense attorney with decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with all types of crimes, including California DUIs. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Noonan understands how the other side thinks, and can put that knowledge to use for his clients. To learn more about how Attorney Noonan can help you fight against the charges you are facing, call 925-479-0033 to schedule a free consultation today.

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