First Offense DUI In California

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First Offense DUI in California

A first offense DUI is a criminal charge for an individual who is charged with drunk driving for the first time in the State of California. Typically, a first offense DUI is charged as a misdemeanor and may result in jail time, probation, or having to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period of time set by the court. It is extremely important for an individual to contact a DUI attorney as promptly as possible because failing to do so could result in a suspended driver’s license. That said, if you contact an attorney, your DUI attorney may be able to get you a restricted license. More on this below. If you’re charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of marijuana or drugs, you should contact the best DUI lawyers to assist you with the fighting the charges against you. You can call us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

A first time DUI defendant may be able to get a restricted license without having to suffer from a six (6) month suspension by:

  • Requesting a DMV hearing within 10 days of being arrest for a DUI,
  • The driver wins the DMV hearing, and
  • The driver is not convicted of a DUI in court


Typically, individuals who are convicted of a DUI in California face the following punishments:

  • Three (3) to five (5) years of informal probation (probation without having to check in with a probation officer)
  • Having to attend DUI school sessions for three (3) months
  • Paying court order fines for drunk driving ($1500)
  • A suspension of the individual’s driver license for six (6) months (Most first time offenders may be able to get a restricted license to travel from home to work with the installation of an IID)
  • Installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device (IID) (This is a device that ensures that you’re not drinking and driving by periodically testing your breath for alcohol)
  • A jail sentence not to exceed 6 months (If you have an experienced attorney, he may be able to get you community service instead of spending time in jail)
  • If convicted of a DUI, you will end up paying very high fees for car insurance because the insurance companies designate you as a high-risk driver
  • You will have to disclose that you were convicted of a crime on any job applications
  • Having to sign and submit a Watson Advisement


Usually, if a person is arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs or marijuana, the arresting officer takes away the person’s license and hands it over to the DMV. If a person does not schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of being arrested, the license is automatically suspended. Scheduling the DMV hearing temporarily stops the suspension of your license pending the outcome of your DMV hearing. Winning at the DMV hearing is difficult, so it’s best that you hire an experienced DUI attorney to assist you with the hearing.


After a person is arrested for drunk driving, a defendant must either plea bargain with the prosecutor or go to trial and a DMV hearing must be scheduled. If a person arrest for a DUI or driving under the influence of marijuana or drug does not schedule a DMV hearing within ten (10) of being arrested, his license will automatically be suspended.

Also, for an individual to keep his license, he must prevail at the DMV hearing. To prevail, you should hire an experienced DUI attorney to schedule your hearing and handle it for you. DMV hearings are not automatic, so you or your attorney have to schedule it within 10 days of your arrest.

The DMV does not impose fines for receiving a DUI, that is what the court does. However, the DMV has the ability to suspend your license. So, if your license matters to you, then you should contact the best DUI lawyers at H Law Group and have them help you keep your license.

That said, even if you win at the DMV hearing, the judge can still order the suspension of your license and the DMV must comply with the court’s orders. The court can impose fines on you, jail time, community service, or requiring you to install an IID for a limited period of time. The facts of your case will determine how the court proceeds, that’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney defending you. It’s possible for your attorney to fight the suspension of your license, as well as fighting for lesser fines and community service time.

Some of the attorneys at the H Law Group are former prosecutors, so they know the inner workings of the system, and they’ll use that knowledge to your benefit.


Now that you know the punishments that an arrest for a DUI triggers, it’s important to know the difference between a California DUI trial vs the DMV hearing.

The DMV hearing is to determine what happens to your driver’s license while the DUI Trial is to determine the criminal punishment for drinking and driving. They are two separate things and it’s important to stay on top of both. The DMV determines what happens to your license while the DUI trial determines whether you go to jail and what punishments you’re subject to.

DMV Hearing is Not Automatic

It is important to remember that the DMV is not automatic. To keep your license, you or your attorney must schedule the hearing within 10 days of you being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The hearing allows you to contest the automatic suspension of your driver’s license after driving under the influence for the first time. You’re not required to schedule the hearing, but it means that you won’t have a license and will not be able to drive. If you schedule the hearing but do not prevail at the hearing, you will lose your license for six (6) months. Even if you prevail at the DMV hearing, the court does have the ability to suspend your license by ordering the DMV to suspend it.

DUI & Court

Although scheduling and attending a DMV hearing is optional, attending a hearing at court is mandatory, meaning it’s not optional and you must go. Once you’re charged with drunk driving, you must attend all court proceedings and hearings. In the first phase, a person is arraigned. At the arraignment, the court will read the charges against you and you will plead either guilty or not guilty.

Factors the DMV Considers at the Hearing

  • Very high blood alcohol level
  • Causing a traffic accident
  • Prior DUI convictions
  • Causing property damage
  • Causing injury to persons
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical or blood test


To win at your DMV hearing, you can bring up a variety of arguments to defend yourself. For example, you can argue that the police officer did not have probable cause that you were drinking and driving. You can also argue that you were not driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or above. One of the main factors that the DMV considers when deciding whether to suspend your driver’s license is whether the officer told you that your driver’s license will be suspended if you refuse to submit a blood or breath test. So, if you were warned, you have a better chance of winning the suspension hearing.

What Happens if you Lose at the DMV Hearing?

If you lose at the DMV hearing, your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of 6 months. The 6-month suspension applies only if this is your first DUI, subsequent DUIs carry lengthier suspensions. After having your license suspended for one month, you may be able to obtain a restricted license that allows you to commute between your home and your work. To obtain a restricted license, an individual must (1) enroll in California DUI school, (2) submit proof of SR-22 insurance form, and pay a $125 fee to the DMV to reinstate your driver’s license.

If you submitted a chemical test that showed that you were driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license for four (4) months. After the first 30 days of your license suspension, you will be able to apply for a restricted driver’s license, which allows you to drive from your home to your work location. To be eligible, you have to enroll in a DUI education program, submit SR-22 proof of insurance, as well as pay a $125 fee to the DMV.


If you’re convicted of drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs or marijuana for the first time, the court may place you on probation instead of placing you in jail. Most first time offenders are offered probation instead of jail, however, there are situations where an individual is placed in jail for a short period of time and is later placed on probation for three to five years. Being placed comes with conditions, we will discuss them in detail below.

What are the Conditions of Probation?

Usually, persons who are convicted of a DUI are placed on probation with the following conditions:

  • The defendant must not drive with any measurable alcohol in his blood
  • The defendant must not refuse to take a DUI chemical test if ordered to do so by an officer
  • The defendant must install an ignition interlock device for a period of time set by the court
  • The defendant must not commit other crimes
  • The court may order the defendant to participate in MAAD (mothers against drunk driving)
  • The court may order the defendant to attend AA (alcoholics anonymous) meetings or NA (narcotics anonymous) meetings
  • The court may order the defendant to pay restitution to victims if any

What Happens if you Violate the Terms of your Probation?

If you violate the terms of your probation, you will most likely serve jail time. The purpose of probation is to keep you out of jail by promising to follow the rules, breaking them will likely result in the reinstatement of your jail sentence. So, if you’ve been placed on probation, make sure that you comply with the terms of your probation.


In California, minors (those under the age of 21) are not permitted to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Having a blood-alcohol level of even 0.01% can lead to you being charged with and convicted of a DUI. If you lose at your DMV hearing, as a minor, your driver’s license will be suspended for one (1) years. If you don’t have a driver’s license at the time your caught drinking and driving, your privilege to obtain a driver’s license will be postponed for one year from the date you’re caught drinking and driving. Also, if you’re a minor and you refuse to perform a chemical or blood test, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to three (3) years. The length of the suspension of your license depends on if you have other prior convictions for drunk driving or driving while under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.


If you were arrested for and charged with drunk driving in California, but you reside in a state other than California, you still need to defend the DUI charges you have in California. If you find yourself in this situation, you should hire a California licensed attorney to appear on your behalf. Also, if you want to keep your driver’s license, you should schedule the DMV hearing, if you don’t schedule it, your driver’s license will be suspended in California. It might also be suspended in your home state because there is a unified system where the DMVs all communicate with one another and share information with each other. So, if your driver’s license is suspended in California, it’s likely that it will also be suspended in your home state.


An often overlook consequences of being convicted of a DUI in California is that a person will have to sign a Watson Advisement, which is basically a statement where an individual states that he understands that drinking and driving can severely injure or kill people. This statement is then used against individuals to convict them of second-degree murder if they’re drinking and driving and kill someone.


Although a single DUI conviction does not often lead to direct immigration consequences, multiple DUIs can cause trouble for those seeking visas to the United States, or those who are applying to become U.S Citizens.


If you or a loved one find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being charged with or investigated for a DUI, you should promptly contact the best DUI lawyers in Los Angeles at the H Law Group. Our attorneys are here to help you get through your DUI with as little consequences to your life.