In California, a DUI is made up of two different violations of the vehicle code. 23152 (a) is driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, so that you are unable to operate a motor vehicle with the same standard of care as a reasonably prudent sober person; and 23152(b) is driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher.
What are my charges?
What is a wet reckless?
A wet reckless charge is a reduced charge that District Attorney’s offices will sometimes offer when the original charge is a DUI with a low blood alcohol level. A wet reckless has the same point count on your driving record as a DUI (2 points), but generally no additional jail time and a lower fine than a DUI is usually ordered by the court.
Do I have to go to Court?
Yes. In most cases, in order to be released from jail without posting bail, you sign an order promising to appear in court. If you do not appear in court, or have an attorney arrange to appear on your behalf, then you MUST go to court for your arraignment or else the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest for failing to appear. The consequences of failing to appear at your arraignment are risking an additional charge for failing to appear, and additional suspension on your driver’s license.
What is an arraignment
An arraignment is a court date wherein the judge will tell you what your rights are (to be represented by an attorney, to have a jury trial, to subpoena witnesses on your behalf and confront the witnesses against you) and what the charges are against you.
Should I get my own lawyer?
Usually at the arraignment the judge will ask you if you would like to be represented by an attorney. It is always a good idea, even if you plan to plea guilty to your charge, to have an attorney represent your interests and make sure all your rights have been protected. An attorney can also spend more time than the judge explaining the process and what you need to do to take care of your obligations. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney yourself (every county has different monthly income limits), then the court will appoint a public defender to represent you. This may require you to come back for another court date in order to meet the public defender assigned to your case.
Will I have to go to jail?
In all cases, it depends on the particular circumstances of your case. Generally, a first offense DUI has a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 48 hours, or two days, and a maximum jail sentence of six months (though the maximum sentence is almost never imposed on a first offense). Sometimes courts will add on additional jail time if there was an accident or if the blood alcohol level is above a certain level, for example above a .15%. Most people arrested for a DUI will be taken immediately to jail by the arresting officer. Judges generally give credit for this time already served toward the final sentence. Many counties offer alternative sentencing programs, such as work release where a person can work an 8-hour day for the probation or sheriff department in exchange for each day they are sentenced to serve in jail.
What are the fines?
The total fine on DUI and all other criminal charges constantly varies because of changes in the laws every year. Under the DUI code sections however, the base fine is a minimum mandatory $390 and a maximum penalty of $1000. In every county, penalty assessments and surcharges are added in order to make the fine total close to $2000 for a first offense.
What is going to happen to my driver's license?
If you are in possession of a valid California Driver’s License at the time you are stopped and arrested on a first offense DUI, the arresting officer will generally take your license away and give you a temporary license that is a pink piece of paper. Read this paper carefully. This paper license is only good for the first 30 days following your arrest. On Day 31, what is called the “Admin Per Se” period of suspension begins. At the very least, for the next 30 days, you will have absolutely no privilege to drive in California. There is no way around that 30 day period of suspension. Also the length of suspension can vary depending on your driving record. However, if a DMV hearing is requested to challenge the Admin Per Se suspension, the DMV will issue a stay and that paper license will be valid until a decision has been made by the DMV as to whether or not your license should be suspended as a result of your arrest. This hearing is waived if it is not requested. Therefore to challenge this suspension, YOU MUST REQUEST THIS HEARING WITHIN 10 DAYS OF YOUR ARREST. The local DMV hearing office phone number is 916-227-2970.
Can I get a restricted license?
A restricted license allowing you to drive to and from work, to and from school, and to and from alcohol-related counseling, can be issued by the DMV on Day 61 following your arrest if the following three criteria have been met: 1) you provide proof of enrollment in a drinking driver program, generally ordered by the court; 2) you provide an SR-22 form from your insurance company showing proof of current insurance; and 3) you pay a $125 re-issuance fee to the DMV (sometimes the DMV charges an additional $15 for processing). The restriction will generally last for five months unless the blood alcohol level is above a .20%
How much is this going to cost me?
A DUI in California is expensive. Between court fines, the cost of the drinking driver program, an increase in your insurance rates, and the fees the DMV charges, you can expect to pay $3500 or more. Attorneys fees vary as well and are not included in that amount. I offer my clients a scale of services at different rates depending on the circumstances of their case and ability to pay and what level of representation is needed. Please contact me directly for more information.
This web page is not intended to provide legal advice on your specific case. Please be aware that statutes and the courts' interpretation of them change over time.
An attorney-client relationship cannot be established with Alison Bermant simply by reading this website; that can be done only by contacting Ms. Bermant and by mutually agreeing on such a relationship. You may use email to contact Ms. Bermant, but do not email any confidential material or information before an attorney-client relationship has been established
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