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How to Deal with Misdemeanor DUI Charges in California.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in California carries significant implications for your future. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney. At The H Law Group, our Santa Ana DUI attorneys have extensive experience handling DUI cases and achieving favorable outcomes for our clients. We are well-versed in the law, penalties, and effective strategies to challenge charges and mitigate harsh consequences.

Misdemeanor DUI vs. Felony DUI:

  • In California, DUI offenses fall into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies.
  • Felony DUI: This more serious charge results from causing severe injury or death to someone else while driving under the influence.
  • Misdemeanor DUI: Applies to most cases where no one was harmed or killed. However, it is still a criminal offense with severe repercussions, including:
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension
  • DUI school
  • Probation

The severity of these consequences depends on your prior DUI convictions within a 10-year period and the specific details of your arrest. For this article we will be focusing on Misdemeanor DUI and the consequences 

What are the Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI in California?

The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI in California vary depending on whether it is your first, second, or third offense within a 10-year period. The following are the general penalties for each offense:

First Offense

  • Fines: Base fines range from $390 to $1,000, but the total costs can be much higher after adding penalty assessments and court fees, possibly exceeding $1,800.
  • Jail Time: Possible county jail time from 48 hours to 6 months, which may be converted to probation for first offenders.
  • License Suspension: 6 to 10 months, but you may be eligible for a restricted license that allows you to drive for essential purposes.
  • DUI School: Mandatory enrollment in a 3- to 9-month DUI education program that teaches you about the dangers and effects of alcohol and drugs.
  • Probation: 3 to 5 years of informal probation, which means that you can avoid jail time if you follow certain conditions, such as not driving with any alcohol in your system, not committing any new crimes, and complying with the court’s orders.

Second Offense

  • Increased Fines and Penalties: Similar base fines as a first offense, but with higher total costs due to additional penalties, such as an ignition interlock device (IID) that prevents you from starting your car if you have any alcohol in your breath.
  • Jail Time: 96 hours to 1 year in county jail, which may be reduced by participating in a work release or community service program.
  • License Suspension: 2 years, but you may be able to obtain a restricted license after 12 months if you install an IID in your car and meet other requirements.
  • DUI School: Enrollment in an 18- to 30-month DUI education program that covers more topics and requires more hours than the first offense program.
  • Probation: Stricter probation terms compared to a first offense, such as more frequent testing and monitoring, higher fines and fees, and longer probation period.

Third Offense

  • Fines and Penalties: Higher end of the range for fines and penalties, plus mandatory installation of an IID in your car for at least 2 years.
  • Jail Time: 120 days to 1 year in county jail, which may be partially served in a residential treatment program or an alternative sentencing program.
  • License Suspension: 3 years, but you may be able to get a restricted license after 18 months if you complete a DUI education program and install an IID in your car.
  • DUI School: Required participation in a 30-month DUI education program that is the most intensive and comprehensive of all the programs.
  • Probation: Similar or stricter conditions compared to the second offense, such as longer probation period, higher fines and fees, and more restrictions on your driving privileges.

What are the Additional Consequences of Misdemeanor DUI in California?

Besides the legal penalties, a misdemeanor DUI conviction can also have other negative effects on your life, such as:

  • Increased Auto Insurance Premiums: Your insurance company may raise your rates or cancel your policy after a DUI conviction, or you may be required to obtain an SR-22 certificate that proves you have the minimum liability coverage required by the state.
  • Employment Difficulties: A DUI conviction may show up on your criminal record and affect your current or future employment opportunities, especially if your job involves driving or requires a professional license.
  • Loss of Professional Licenses: Some professions, such as doctors, Attorneys, teachers, nurses, and others, may suspend or revoke your license if you are convicted of a DUI offense, or impose additional sanctions or requirements on your practice.
  • Negative Impacts on Immigration Status: If you are not a U.S. citizen, a DUI conviction may jeopardize your immigration status and lead to deportation, removal, or denial of naturalization or citizenship.

How Can DUI Attorney Santa Ana Help You Fight Your Misdemeanor DUI Charge?

If you’re grappling with a misdemeanor DUI charge in California, securing the services of a seasoned and skilled DUI defense attorney is crucial. At The H law Group our DUI Attorneys in Santa Ana, our dedicated legal team has successfully defended thousands of clients accused of DUI offenses. Allow me to shed light on how we can assist you in fighting your case:

  1. Challenging the Traffic Stop: We meticulously examine the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop. If we find that the police officer lacked a valid reason or probable cause to stop you, or if they violated your constitutional rights during the stop (such as an illegal search or seizure), we will vigorously argue in your favor.
  2. Disputing Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand, are not foolproof. Factors like fatigue, illness, injury, medication, or environmental conditions can influence these tests. We meticulously highlight any flaws or inaccuracies in these assessments.
  3. Questioning BAC Testing Procedures: Breathalyzer or blood tests are often relied upon to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). However, we scrutinize the reliability and validity of these tests. We may challenge the calibration or maintenance of the testing device, the training and certification of the testing officer, adherence to correct testing procedures, or potential contamination or tampering of test results.
  4. Rising Blood Alcohol Defense: We recognize that BAC levels can fluctuate between the time of driving and the time of testing. Factors like absorption and elimination of alcohol play a role. If your BAC was below the legal limit during driving but rose above it during testing due to this delay, we build a strong defense.
  5. Medical Conditions and Diet: Certain medical conditions (such as diabetes, acid reflux, or ketosis) and specific diets can impact BAC test results. We present evidence to demonstrate how these factors may have affected your readings, potentially leading to false positives or inflated BAC levels.

Remember, our goal is to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case. If you’re facing a DUI charge, reach out to us for a free consultation. We’re here to fight for you!


Do Not Take a Misdemeanor DUI Charge in California Lightly. Hire a Santa Ana DUI Attorney to Defend You. A misdemeanor DUI charge in California is not a simple matter that you can resolve on your own. It is a serious criminal offense that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on your life. That is why you need DUI Attorney Santa Ana to help you fight your charge and obtain the best possible outcome. We have the expertise, experience, and resources to handle any DUI case, no matter how complicated or difficult. We will work relentlessly to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future.

If you have been arrested for misdemeanor DUI in California, do not delay contacting The H Law Group today. Our DUI Attorneys in Santa Ana are ready for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and discuss your options. Call now on 888-499-4948 to get the best DUI attorney in Santa Ana!