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What Happens if I Get a DUI in California?

For the average San Francisco citizen, their first (and hopefully only) encounter with a criminal charge is a DUI arrest. By no means to be taken lightly, a DUI can affect your life in ways you probably never dreamed of. However, keeping your head about you and finding an experienced DUI attorney like Michael Ross, is probably your best bet for a good outcome in your case.

Most DUI arrests occur after a person is pulled over for an unrelated traffic violation or after an accident occurs. At the time of the pull-over where someone is suspected of DUI, the officer who stopped you will often conduct a field sobriety test. If you fail the sobriety test, the officer will then place you under arrest and take you to jail. Unless you are belligerent, the officer may not physically restrain or handcuff you, but don’t be alarmed if you are restrained. In some California counties restraining an arrestee is standard procedure, regardless of the circumstances.

Once you arrive at the police station or jail, you’ll be booked—the details of the incident will be recorded, and you’ll be fingerprinted, have a mug shot taken and probably be asked to take a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in your system. If you are 21 or older and refuse to take or fail your blood alcohol content test, your license will automatically be suspended for a particular amount of time depending on whether or not you’ve been arrested for DUI in the past.

Your personal property (cash, keys, etc.) will be confiscated until your release. To be released from police custody, you’ll have to post bail (for some counties bail is assigned depending upon the offense), be released on your own recognizance, or be held in jail to await a hearing in which a judge will determine the amount of bail you must post. Once you have sobered up (assuming you were drunk in the first place) and have posted bail, you’ll be given instructions about when to appear in court and released.

At the time of your DUI arrest, the arresting officer will take your driver’s license, issue you an Order of Suspension and provide you with a Temporary License. This allows you to drive for the next 30 days unless your driver’s license has expired or has been revoked or suspended previous to the arrest. A copy of your notice is then forwarded immediately to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CDMV) by the arresting officer along with a sworn report outlining the details of your arrest.

A DUI Arrest and How It Affects Your Driving Privileges

You’ll have up to ten (10) days after your DUI arrest to request an administrative hearing with the DMV that will give you an opportunity to argue that the revocation or suspension of your license is not justified. An experienced DUI lawyer comes in handy here to present your case. Even if you do not receive a favorable response from the CDMV, you still can visit any CDMV field office and request a restricted license to be issued while you await the outcome of your DUI charges so you can have transportation to travel to work or school. Sanctions imposed by the DMV in no way have a legal bearing on your criminal DUI charge; the CDMV only has jurisdiction over your ability to drive.

A first-time DUI triggers an automatic six-month license suspension. Imposed by your DUI judge if you are convicted of DUI, the suspension is reported to the CDMV and the CDMV takes responsibility for seeing that the suspension is put into effect. If you have engaged a good DUI attorney who is able to have your charges reduced to a less severe offense than a DUI or if your case is dismissed before trial, no suspension of your driving privileges will take effect.

Penalties for a First Time California DUI Conviction

In addition to the suspension of your driving privileges, a first conviction of DUI in California is punishable by jail time of between 96 hours and 6 months, a fine between $390 to $1000 (plus penalties), a possible requirement to participate in a DUI state-approved program, and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on your car at your expense.  In an effort to curb drunk driving, California has over the years, instituted harsher and harsher penalties. You can find the most recent updates to California DUI laws as well as the latest Bills to be heard on the subject at the National Conference of State Legislatures website. However, your best resource for detailed information on California DUI laws and how they might affect your situation is a qualified, experienced DUI attorney.

A DUI conviction on your record has serious consequences.  Besides limiting your movements, a DUI conviction can also hamper your future job opportunities as anytime a potential employer chooses to conduct a background check on you, they’ll discover the DUI conviction. Depending upon the policies of the company you wish to work for, a DUI conviction on your record may immediately eliminate you as a candidate for employment there.

Michael Ross Is a San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney Experienced in Handling Defense of California DUI Cases

If you are facing a DUI charge in a court in or around the San Francisco area, Michael Ross is here to help. With years of experience and successful outcomes for DUI clients, Mr. Ross is a San Francisco criminal defense attorney you can rely on for assist with your DUI. From arrest to DMV hearing to court appearances and plea negotiations, Mr. Ross is here to assist you.