First Offense DUI
A DUI can sneak up on you when you don’t expect it. A typical DUI might start like this:
You go out to dinner with an old friend you haven't seen in years. The two of you order a bottle of wine (or was it two?) to enjoy over your meal and conversation. You only have two (or was it three?) glasses of wine. With that hearty dinner you don't feel inebriated at all. As you are driving home, the car behind you rear-ends you. It's not a serious accident, just a bump. A police officer happens to drive by and sees you and the other driver exchanging information. The officer stops to assist. As you are speaking to the officer, she detects an odor of alcohol and asks you if you have been drinking. You tell her you had maybe two glasses of wine earlier with dinner.
The officer asks you to take a Field Sobriety Test (FST) to which you submit, figuring you'll pass the tests with flying colors. You don't, or at least the officer has determined that you didn't pass. After the FST, the officer asks you to blow into a breathalyzer twice. She then arrests you for DUI after your breathalyzer blow registered a .09% blood alcohol level (BAC). You are stunned and shocked, you aren't a big drinker and you certainly wouldn't drive drunk, or at least you didn’t think you would.
Many people don't realize that a .08% BAC doesn’t always cause obvious intoxication. Many people also think they can drive just fine after a couple of drinks and they don't consider that they may come in contact with an officer for reasons other than being pulled over for a driving violation. The DUI laws in California are strict and even a first-time offender can face serious consequences.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you would be wise to contact a first offense DUI attorney immediately. In the scenario above, an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to challenge the officer’s reasonable suspicion and get the DUI charge dismissed or, in the alternative, could argue for a reduced charge (such as a driving infraction) based on the borderline BAC. Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg has defended many first offense DUI cases and will diligently pursue the best possible outcome in your case. He has an intimate understanding of the complexity of the DUI laws and can quickly identify any viable defense in your case.
An arrest for a first time DUI usually results in a charge under Vehicle Code section 23152 subdivisions (a) and (b). The arrest will result in the confiscation of the driver's license and issuance of a 30-day temporary driver license, with a suspension of driving privileges 30 days after the arrest. However the law now provides that most DUI arrestees can avoid the license suspension by installing an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. By choosing this option within 30 days of the arrest, the driver avoids any restriction on driving.
Only first-time DUI offenders have the option to choose the IID (for subsequent DUIs, it is mandatory if they do not want to face a suspension/restriction of their license). Choosing the IID option means that the first-time DUI offender cannot challenge the DMV suspension of his or her license at an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing. Note that even if the first-time offender chooses not to install an IID, the installation of the device may be later ordered by the court; however, the court-ordered installation cannot be for a period of more than six months. It is also important to note that the IID option applies ONLY to DUI for alcohol. A driver arrested for driving under the influence of drugs is not subject to the per se DUI law.
If the first-time DUI offender wants to challenge the license suspension, he or she must request a DMV hearing within ten days of the arrest. The DMV hearing is an entirely separate matter from the criminal proceedings. A DUI arrest can be challenged based on the unlawfulness of the initial stop or the unlawfulness of the arrest itself. Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg can review your first offense DUI for possible challenges but it important that you act quickly as you have only ten days to request an APS hearing.
If the driver chooses not to install an IID and/or challenges the arrest at the APS hearing and loses, his or her driver’s license will be suspended 30 days after the DUI arrest for a period of four months. However, after one month of the suspension, the driver may apply for a restricted license, which will permit limited driving to school, work, and DUI classes, for a period of five months.Criminal Penalties for a First Offense DUI Conviction
In addition to the administrative sanctions, a first offense DUI is a misdemeanor subject to criminal proceedings. The outcome of these proceedings varies depending upon the prosecution’s evidence and the negotiation skills of your DUI defense attorney. Typically, a first offense DUI will end in a plea, although the defendant is legally entitled to a trial. When the evidence is weak or the chemical tests are borderline, negotiating a reduced charge or a dismissal can often be negotiated by a skilled attorney. Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg can review the circumstances of your arrest and advise you on your plea bargain possibilities. Not all DUI arrests end in a DUI conviction!
Jail / Probation. A first offense DUI may be punished by up to six months in county jail. This rarely, if ever, happens. Rather, the court will usually sentence the first-time offender to informal (unsupervised) probation in lieu of a jail sentence. On most first offender DUI convictions, the probation term is three years. While informal probation will not require regular check-ins with the county probation office, it will prohibit you from certain behaviors – most notably, driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system for the entire term of probation. Violating a term of probation can result in more serious consequences. The court will also assess fines and penalties.
DUI Education. The statute provides that a first offender whose BAC was under 0.20% must participate for three months or longer in a program that includes education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions. An offender whose BAC was 0.20% or more, or a first offender with less than 0.20% but who refused to take a chemical test, must participate a minimum nine month program. Sometimes the court will issue other orders such as attendance at AA meetings.
Enhanced Penalties. Under certain circumstances, a first-time DUI can result in enhanced penalties. Some of these circumstances include a BAC above .15%, having a child under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the arrest, causing an accident, and reckless driving. You also face enhanced penalties if at the time of your DUI arrest, you are under the age of 21. If you refused to submit to a chemical test and you are convicted on the DUI, you may be sentenced to 48 hours in jail and additional DUI education classes. Furthermore, you face a mandatory suspension of your license, which can be shortened from one year to six months if you install an IID.Orange County First Offense DUI Defense Attorney William Weinberg Can Help
Employing a skilled DUI defense attorney is crucial, even on a first-time offense. Under California law, DUI convictions are cumulative during a ten-year lookback period. Subsequent DUI convictions within the ten-year lookback period carry increased penalties. While not all first time DUI convictions can be avoided, if there is any possibility of a dismissal or reduction to a non-DUI offense, Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg will fight for that result. Attorney Weinberg offers a confidential and complimentary consultation. He will review the facts of your case and advise you accordingly. Contact him at any time to schedule your consultation.