What Happens to First Offenders Under the California DUI Laws

One question I get more than any other is "What will happen to me in the court on my first offense for DUI in California?"

If you talk to a DUI attorney that knows the ins and outs of the California DUI laws, there are all sorts of variables to
consider. Usually you will not give a clear answer. After ten years
of working with first offenders I can tell you within a general framework of what MOST DUI (VC23152) first offenders receive in the 10 county Bay Area.

First Offender Penalties

In Court

  • $1200 fine.
  • 3 years probation (informal – no probation officer).
  • 3-5 days sheriff work alternative program (picking up trash,
    cleaning buses, etc.) OR
  • 90 license restriction (to start AFTER 4 months DMV suspension is
    over).
  • First Offender School (3/4 months long).

This is in addition to the four months immediate DMV suspension that
starts 30 days after your driving under the influence stop.

These two ACTIONS (court and DMV) are SEPARATE and do not influence
one another. Many times someone gets their license back by going to the
DMV hearing and then is convicted in the court. Or, the DA drops the
charges and the DMV still suspends your license!

With the conviction in the court you are allowed to get a restricted
license AFTER a 30 day hard suspension (after the 30 day temporary
license period is over = two months after your DUI stop). This allows you to drive to and from work and in the course of your employment and to and from the DUI class. The only ‘draw back’ to the license restriction is
that it is restricted for 5 months (they say 6 but the DMV counts the
first month of suspension). OR you can ride out the 4 months suspension
period and get you license back. BUT, once the court notifies the DMV
that you have been convicted of driving under the influence or a wetreckless and as part of your probation you have been sent to a First Offender Program. The requirement to show proof of completion of the program will be added to the list of items needed (Proof of Insurance SR-22 and pay $125 to get your license returned.

Remember after January 1, 2003 ALL persons convicted of a DUI in California (23152) will be required to attend and complete a level one program (whether the court sent you to one or not!)

This is GENERALLY the way it works for those convicted of a misdemeanor first offense DUI.

If it is your first offense you will need a California DUI Lawyer.

DUI Attorneys


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