DUI Lawyer in Orange County

Criminal Defense Picture

Orange County’s Misdemeanor DUI Landscape, Unveiled by Local DUI Lawyers 

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in California, you may be facing serious criminal charges that can affect your life in many ways. The seasoned DUI attorneys at The H Law Group in Orange County specialize in vigorous defense for clients facing DUI charges. Our deep understanding of the law, penalties, and effective defenses empowers us to fight for your rights.

What is a Misdemeanor DUI in Orange County, California?

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County, California can lead to either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. A felony DUI is a grave offense, indicating that you caused harm or fatality to another person while driving under the influence. On the other hand, a misdemeanor DUI is a less severe offense typically applicable when no injuries or fatalities occurred. However, DUI in Orange County is still a crime that can lead to harsh penalties, such as fines, jail time, license suspension, DUI school, probation, and more. The penalties vary depending on how many DUI convictions you have within 10 years and the details of your arrest.

What are the Legal Standards and BAC Limits for DUI in Orange County, California?

According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. The state uses blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. The legal BAC limits are:

  • 0.08% for drivers 21 years and older operating regular passenger vehicles.
  • 0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers.
  • Any detectable alcohol level for drivers under 21 years old, in accordance with California’s zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving.

If you are found to have a BAC level above the legal limit, you can be charged with DUI per se, which means that the state does not need to prove that you were actually impaired by alcohol. However, you can also be charged with DUI if you are found to be impaired by drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs, regardless of your BAC level.

What are the Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI in Orange County 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 Orange County, California?

Beyond Legal Consequences: The Ripple Effects of a Misdemeanor DUI

  • Auto Insurance Woes: Brace yourself for higher auto insurance premiums. Your insurer might raise rates or even cancel your policy post-DUI. Alternatively, you could find yourself obtaining an SR-22 certificate, a tangible proof of minimum liability coverage mandated by the state.
  • Employment Hurdles: Picture your criminal record as a spotlight. A DUI conviction steps into the limelight, potentially dimming your job prospects. If your work involves driving or requires a professional license, tread carefully.
  • Professional Licenses at Risk: Doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses—their licenses hang in the balance. A DUI offense could trigger suspension or revocation. Brace for additional hoops to jump through.
  • Immigration Quandaries: Non-U.S. citizens, listen up. A DUI conviction isn’t just a legal hiccup; it’s a seismic shift. Your immigration status trembles—deportation, removal, or a citizenship denial dance on the horizon.

Remember, the echoes of a DUI reverberate far beyond the courtroom. 

How Can DUI Lawyer in Orange County Help You Fight Your Misdemeanor DUI Charge?

If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI charge in Orange Conty, California, you need a skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you and protect your rights. DUI Lawyer Orange County is a team of dedicated lawyers who have successfully defended thousands of clients accused of DUI offenses. We know how to challenge the evidence against you, such as:

  • Challenging the Traffic Stop: We can argue that the police officer who stopped you did not have a valid reason or probable cause to do so, or that they violated your constitutional rights during the stop, such as by conducting an illegal search or seizure.
  • Disputing Field Sobriety Tests: We can highlight the flaws and inaccuracies of field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand, which are often influenced by factors other than alcohol or drugs, such as fatigue, illness, injury, medication, or environmental conditions.
  • Questioning BAC Testing Procedures: We can attack the reliability and validity of breathalyzer or blood tests, such as by showing that the testing device was not properly calibrated or maintained, that the testing officer was not adequately trained or certified, that the testing procedure was not followed correctly, or that the test results were contaminated or tampered with.
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Defense: We can demonstrate that your BAC level was below the legal limit at the time of driving but rose to above the legal limit by the time of testing, due to the delay between the traffic stop and the test, and the absorption and elimination of alcohol in your body.
  • Medical Conditions and Diet: We can present evidence that certain medical conditions or diets could have affected your BAC test results, such as diabetes, acid reflux, ketosis, or high-protein diets, which can produce false positives or inflate the BAC readings.


A misdemeanor DUI charge in Orange County, California is not a minor matter that you can handle on your own. It is a serious criminal offense that can have severe and lasting consequences on your life. That is why you need DUI Lawyer Orange County to help you fight your case and achieve the best possible outcome. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to handle any DUI case, no matter how complex or challenging. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future.

If you have been arrested for misdemeanor DUI in California, do not hesitate to contact The H Law Group today. Our DUI Lawyers in Orange County are available for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 on 888-499-4948 to answer your questions and discuss your options.