Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that can be committed by nearly anyone, regardless of education, profession, or income. It may be someone who drinks regularly or only once in a while. All it takes is driving a car after one drink too many, and you can find yourself convicted of DUI, leaving you to face devastating consequences that can last for years.
While you may be aware that a DUI conviction could lead to jail time and fines, there are also some unknown consequences of a conviction. Here is a list of some of the possible outcomes of a first-time conviction under California Vehicle Code Section 23152:
1. Jail Time
The jail sentence for a first DUI offense can be as much as six months in county jail. However, this does not mean that you will automatically have to spend time behind bars. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to keep you out of jail by getting the prosecutor or the court to convert your jail time into community service, house arrest or some other form of alternative sentencing.
2. Monetary Costs: Fines and Restitution
The law requires that the fine on a first-time DUI offense must fall within the range of $390 – $1,000, but the monetary penalties do not begin or end with a fine. First, you may have to post bail to get out of jail following your arrest. Your car may also be impounded, which means that you must pay for the towing and storage of the vehicle.
If you caused damage to property or an injury to someone while driving under the influence, the court will order you to pay restitution to any victims.
According to a report from the Automobile Club of Southern California, a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction can rack up a total cost of nearly $16,000. If you are under the legal drinking age of 21, you could see costs exceeding $22,000. This includes state and local fines, penalties, insurance, restitution, legal fees, and other costs.
3. Suspension of Your License
Being arrested for DUI not only triggers a criminal case, but the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is notified as well. The DMV will begin the process of suspending your driver’s license before you even step into a courtroom. At the time of your arrest, the officer will take your license, and the burden is on you to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest to reinstate your license. If you fail to do so, the DMV will consider you to have waived your right to a hearing, and will suspend your driving privilege for four months.
If you are convicted for your first DUI and you are 21 years of age or older, the law requires that your license be suspended for at least six months. However, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to help you obtain a restricted license that will allow you to drive to work, school or an alcohol program.
In addition to jail time and fines, the court may impose a probation period of as long as five years.
As part of probation, the court will require you to follow some or all of these terms:
• No driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood;
• Mandatory submission to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine, if stopped on suspicion of DUI;
• No committing any criminal offense;
• Maintaining valid insurance;
• Disclosure of probation terms upon request of law enforcement officer;
• No associating with anyone disapproved of by your probation officer;
• Submission to search and seizure without a warrant; or
• Enrollment, participation, and successful completion of a driving-under-the-influence program.
5. Insurance Consequences
A DUI conviction will prevent you from obtaining a “good driver” insurance discount for a period of 10 years, which could result in an increase of as much as 20% in your premiums. You may also be required to obtain a yearly SR-22 certificate from your insurance company to prove to the DMV that you have insurance that meets the minimum coverage requirements for a “high-risk” driver. If you fail to pay your insurance during that time, the insurance company must inform the DMV, which will result in a suspension of your license until you obtain a new SR-22.
6. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panels Attendance
The court could require you to attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel. Two or three victims of accidents or people who had loved ones injured or killed in DUI accidents, are invited to speak about the impact on their lives after the accident.
7. Required Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) Installation
Upon conviction for a first offense, four counties – Los Angeles, Sacramento, Tulare and Alameda – mandate installation of an IID in your car at your own expense for at least five months. This device forces you to provide a clean breath sample before your car will start. The IID will prevent your car from starting if the slightest hint of alcohol is detected on your breath, even if you are under the legal limit.
8. Criminal Record
A DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record for 10 years. This means anyone who does a background check, such as a potential employer, landlord, or college admissions office, will see your conviction, and could use that knowledge to deny you the job, housing, or education for which you applied.
9. Loss of Job/Employment Opportunities
Not only could future employers deny you the job you want, but you could lose your current job as well, especially if your job requires you to drive on behalf of your employer. The requirements of your sentence, such as community service, jail time, and court dates, will put a strain on your schedule, which is something an employer may not be willing to work through with you.
10. Personal and Professional Relationships Will Be Affected
There is always a human cost to any criminal conviction. Your friends and family may be ashamed or embarrassed, and they may begin to treat you differently. This is a cost that can go on long after your sentence has ended and all of your fines and penalties have been paid.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today If You Have Been Arrested for DUI
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich today. A DUI conviction is not always an easy case for the prosecutor to make. Using an effective defense strategy specifically tailored to the facts of your case, we may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. We can help you minimize the consequences and get you the best possible result in your case.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, Wallin & Klarich has successfully defended thousands of clients charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.