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How to Handle Misdemeanor DUI Charges in California.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in California has far-reaching implications for your future. If you’re facing DUI charges, it’s critical to seek the guidance of a seasoned and skilled DUI Attorney. At The H Law Group, our Santa Maria DUI Attorneys possess extensive experience in handling DUI cases, consistently 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:some text
    • 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?

In addition to the legal penalties, a misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can have several other negative consequences for your life:

  • Increased Auto Insurance Premiums: Following a DUI conviction, your insurance company may raise your rates or even cancel your policy. Alternatively, you might be required to obtain an SR-22 certificate, which proves you have the minimum liability coverage mandated by the state.
  • Employment Difficulties: A DUI conviction can appear on your criminal record, potentially affecting your current or future employment opportunities. This impact is especially significant if your job involves driving or requires a professional license.
  • Loss of Professional Licenses: Certain professions, including doctors, Attorneys, teachers, and nurses, may suspend or revoke your license if you are convicted of a DUI offense. Additionally, they might impose additional sanctions or requirements on your practice.
  • Negative Impacts on Immigration Status: For non-U.S. citizens, a DUI conviction can jeopardize your immigration status. It may lead to deportation, removal, or even denial of naturalization or citizenship.
  • Navigating these potential consequences requires careful consideration and legal guidance. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, consult with an experienced DUI Attorney to protect your rights and explore effective strategies.

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

A DUI charge can be stressful and confusing. But you don't have to face it alone. At The H Law Group in Santa Maria, California, our experienced DUI defense attorneys have a proven track record of success. We've helped thousands of clients fight their charges and achieve the best possible outcome. Here's how we can stand by your side:

  • Challenging the Stop: We'll carefully examine why you were pulled over. If the officer didn't have a legitimate reason or violated your rights, we'll fight to have the evidence thrown out.
  • Field Sobriety Test Defense: These tests aren't perfect. Fatigue, medication, or even uneven pavement can affect the results. We'll expose any weaknesses in the officer's observations.
  • Questioning Blood/Breath Tests: We'll analyze the testing procedures and equipment used. Improper calibration, officer error, or contamination can cast doubt on the results.
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Defense: Your BAC can change after you've been stopped. We'll build a defense strategy if the test result doesn't reflect your condition when driving.
  • Medical Conditions and Diet: Certain medical issues or diets can influence BAC readings. We'll present evidence to explain how these factors may have led to inaccurate results.

Our goal is to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome in your case. Don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. We're here to fight for you!


Taking a Misdemeanor DUI Charge in California Lightly Is a Mistake. Hire a Santa Maria DUI Attorney to Defend You. A misdemeanor DUI charge in California isn’t a simple matter that you can resolve on your own. It’s a serious criminal offense with devastating and long-lasting effects on your life. That’s why you need a DUI Attorney in Santa Maria to help you fight your charge and achieve the best possible outcome. We have the expertise, experience, and resources to handle any DUI case, no matter how complicated or difficult. Our relentless efforts are focused on protecting your rights, preserving your freedom, and securing your future.

If you’ve been arrested for misdemeanor DUI in California, don’t delay—contact The H Law Group today. Our DUI Attorneys in Santa Maria are available 24/7 for a free consultation on +1 (888) 499-4948. We’re here to answer your questions and discuss your options.