You have likely heard that the penalties of a DUI conviction are severe. This is true. However, did you know that there are also long-term consequences of a DUI conviction extending beyond the court's immediate punitive measures? At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, we understand how devastating a DUI conviction can be. Even a first offense has the potential to derail your life. Below we review how DUIs are charged in California, the many ways a DUI conviction can impact your life, and what to do if you are facing DUI charges.
How Are DUIs Charged in California?
In California, a DUI may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your case. If this is your first or second offense and there are no aggravating factors, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. Aggravating factors (such as when someone is injured or killed in a DUI accident) may result in a DUI offense being charged as a felony. Similarly, if you are charged with a third or subsequent DUI offense, you may be charged with a felony, even when there are no aggravating factors.
Regardless of how your DUI is charged, you must secure legal representation as soon as possible. The penalties of a DUI conviction are severe, even for a misdemeanor conviction, and you want to avoid a DUI on your record.
Keep reading to learn more about the penalties associated with DUI convictions.
The Penalties of a DUI Conviction
Prosecutors are notoriously aggressive when pursuing DUI charges, and the courts take a very hard line when it comes to DUI convictions. Consequently, the penalties of a conviction are significant. This is why all DUI charges must be taken seriously. First offense misdemeanors can come with up to 5 years probation, a license suspension, up to $1,000 in fines, and a mandatory ignition interlock device.
Common DUI penalties include:
- Mandatory enrollment in drug or alcohol counseling
- Ignition interlock device requirements
- Community service
- License suspension and revocation
The penalties of a felony DUI conviction are some of the most severe and can result in up to three years imprisonment in state prison. If it is your third or subsequent offense, you may be designated a "habitual traffic offender" by the DMV. Felony DUI convictions can also result in a complete loss of your driver's license.
Other Ways a DUI May Affect Your Life
Aside from the immediate punitive penalties associated with a DUI conviction, you may also face a wide range of personal and professional problems. Just being accused of a DUI can significantly impact your reputation and your standing within your community. Furthermore, a DUI conviction can also complicate and negatively affect other legal matters you may be dealing with, including child custody issues, divorce cases, and more.
Long-term effects of a DUI conviction may include:
- Loss of reputation
- Issues with custody and other family law matters
- Difficulties finding housing
- Loss of employment or difficulty finding good employment
- Loss of professional licensing or barring from professional organizations
- Problems enrolling in college or post-secondary education
- Increased insurance premiums or the inability to secure insurance
A DUI can also be financially ruinous, even beyond the steep fines and court fees associated with your case. Having a DUI conviction on your record, especially a felony conviction, can inhibit your ability to find well-paying work and can even bar you from working in certain industries or professions. Furthermore, a conviction on your record may also preclude you from attending college, vocational training, and other post-secondary educational opportunities. This, combined with increased insurance premiums, can derail your life.
What to Do If You Are Charged with a DUI
If you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI or charged with a DUI, your first step should be to secure experienced legal representation. While you can represent yourself, it is not recommended. With so much at stake, it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable attorney by your side, fighting for your rights and your future. Your lawyer can help you throughout the process, including explaining the charges brought against you, uncovering all of your legal options, and representing you in court.
At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, we have a reputation for strong, aggressive DUI representation. Reach out to our law firm today to discuss your case.