What Happens When You Get a DUI in California?

The California courts take DUI charges very seriously. Because drunk driving is such a serious risk to public safety, the penalties of a DUI conviction are severe, even for a first offense. If you are pulled over or stopped at a DUI checkpoint and arrested for a DUI, it is very important that you contact a trusted lawyer right away. The judicial process surrounding DUI charges can be complicated, and prosecutors are very aggressive. A skilled attorney can help you protect your rights and guide you throughout the process.

To learn more about your rights when pulled over or stopped at a DUI checkpoint, review our blog here.

Types of DUI Charges

In California, DUI charges are categorized based on the number of offenses on your record. First offense DUIs are typically charged as misdemeanors, depending on the circumstances of the case. Violations occurring after your second offense are automatically classified as felony DUI offenses.

Common penalties associated with a DUI conviction include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspensions
  • License revocations
  • Mandatory ignition interlock devices
  • Mandatory attendance at DUI school
  • DMV designation as a habitual traffic offender (HTO)

In addition to the court-ordered penalties of a DUI conviction, there is also a personal cost as well. Even after you've satisfied your sentence, you will have a DUI conviction on your record. While DUI charges do not stay on your record forever, they can remain on your driving record for up to 10 years. This can cause your insurance rates to skyrocket (or make getting insurance very difficult) and can preclude you from certain types of jobs.

What Happens After You Are Arrested?

After a DUI arrest, especially if this is a first offense and there are no injuries associated with your case, you may be released from jail in a few hours. Your arrest will also trigger the DMV to suspend your license for 30 days. You have a right to request a hearing to challenge this suspension, but you must make your request for the hearing within ten days of the initial suspension. However, your license may ultimately still be suspended or restricted, depending on the outcome of your case. To learn more about DMV guidelines for first offense DUI offenders, review their handout here.

In addition to the process you will go through with the DMV, you will also have to deal with the criminal case against you. Your individual situation will affect how your case is prosecuted and the potential penalties of a conviction. Though you can represent yourself, you must secure legal representation for your DUI case. A skilled lawyer will advocate for you in court, helping you protect your rights and your driving privileges.

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