First DUI Offense in California

Last Modified: April 11, 2023
April 11, 2023 | Rabin Nabizadeh | DUI

First DUI defense in californiaIf you find yourself charged with a DUI in California, you understand that the penalties for a conviction can be severe. At Summit Defense, we can provide a solid legal defense if you have been charged with driving under the influence.

If you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will have difficulty maintaining control. It can put yourself and others at risk, so nobody should get behind the wheel if they think they cannot do so safely.

At Summit Defense, our California DUI defense lawyer can provide you with the strong defense you expect and deserve. Learn more about a first-time DUI offense in California, and give us a call to schedule a free case consultation.

What Happens With a First-Time DUI Offense in California?

If you get charged with a first-time DUI offense in California, remember several points. First, understand that you will probably be booked into the local jail, where you will be fingerprinted and have your mugshot taken. It would help if you were allowed to post bail, making it easier to prepare a strong defense with your criminal defense attorney.

The penalties for a conviction will vary from case to case, but they will likely include probation, a significant fine, and a possible suspension of your driver’s license. That is why ensuring your rights are protected is critical, and you put forth a strong defense.

What To Do if You Are Arrested for a DUI?

What to do if you are arrested for a DUI

If you get arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence, there are several steps you should take. They include:




  • Do not say anything to anybody. You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say might be used against you.
  • It will help if you cooperate with the arresting officer. They have nothing personal against you, and you do not want to do anything to worsen the situation.
  • As soon as you can do so, you need to call a DUI defense attorney in California as quickly as possible. You have the right to have a lawyer present and should contact one as soon as possible.

Ideally, you should already have a lawyer in place even if you think you are being investigated for a DUI, so call us to schedule a case consultation as soon as possible.

What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI in California?

If you get charged with a first-time DUI in California, the circumstances of your case will vary depending on the nature of the case and the charges against you.

First DUI Misdemeanor Charge

One of the most common charges is a first-time DUI misdemeanor charge. You could be charged with this crime if you are found to have been driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and nobody was injured or killed.

In this case, the penalties for a conviction can range from $390 to $1,000. You will probably be required to attend a DUI school, and your driver’s license will likely get suspended for at least 6 months. You could also be placed on probation for 3 to 5 years and might be required to use an ignition interlock device.

First DUI Causing Injury or Death

This crime could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the discretion of the prosecutor and the severity of your specific case.

For example, if someone died in an accident, you might be more likely to be charged with a felony. You could spend up to a year in jail, and the fines could be more severe. Your license might also be suspended for a more extended amount of time.

First Felony DUI

Even though there are plenty of DUI charges in California that are misdemeanor offenses, there is a chance that you could be charged with a felony DUI.

For example, if this is your fourth DUI charge in 10 years, you could automatically be charged with a felony. On the other hand, if you have a prior felony DUI conviction anywhere on your record, your new charge could be automatically elevated to a felony. Prior DUI convictions could elevate a misdemeanor offense to a felony.

Finally, as alluded to above, if you are involved in an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and somebody else was injured or killed, you could be charged with a felony DUI.

How Long Is First-Time DUI Jail Time?

How long is first time DUI jail time

If you get charged with a DUI for the first time, it is unlikely that you will end up in jail. However, there are several situations where you might have to serve jail time due to your DUI conviction. They include:



  • You could spend time in jail if somebody was injured in the accident.
  • You might have to spend time in prison if somebody got killed in an accident.
  • If other aggravating factors are involved in your charges, you might have to spend time in jail.

Remember that you will only have to spend time in jail if you are convicted, so you need to schedule a case consultation with us as quickly as possible.

Will I Lose My License for a First-Time DUI in California?

Yes, if you get convicted of a DUI in California, there is a high likelihood that you will lose your license. That is true, even if it is your first DUI. For your first DUI conviction, you should expect to have your license suspended by the DMV for at least 6 months.

We may be able to file an appeal to help you keep your driving privileges, but this is something that we discuss on a case-by-case basis.

Is There Alternative Sentencing for First-Time DUI in California?

Is there alternative sentencing for first time DUI

Yes, alternative sentencing is available for first-time DUI convictions in California. For example, you can complete a special program involving DUI classes, which will last for a few months and could help you stay out of jail.

It is not an option open to everyone, but if your BAC was not grossly elevated, we could pursue this alternative sentencing option.

What Aggravating Factors Can Increase the Penalties for a First-Time DUI?

There are a variety of factors that could increase the penalties for a first-time DUI conviction. A few examples include the following:

  • You were driving dangerously or recklessly when authorities pulled you over.
  • Your BAC was 0.20 or higher.
  • You were driving on a suspended or revoked license at the time.
  • You were not only driving under the influence but were also involved in a collision.

If aggravating factors play a role, the DUI penalties could be more severe.

How Do I Get a First-Time DUI Conviction Expunged in California?

If you have completed your probationary period and you have had no further offenses, you may be able to file a petition to have your DUI conviction expunged. It does not mean it drops off your record, but it will show that the conviction was vacated and set aside.

This situation could make it easier for you to find housing and employment, so if you believe you are eligible to have your DUI conviction expunged, contact us to learn more.

What Are the Indirect Costs of a First-Time California DUI?

In addition to potential probation, jail time, fines, and other criminal penalties, there are some indirect costs you might face as well. They include:

  • Dealing with license suspension is harder, even after your DMV hearing.
  • You might have a difficult time finding employment because of background check issues.
  • You may have a difficult time finding housing because of background check issues. 
  • Relationships with your family members and friends may suffer as well.

You are entitled to a strong defense, so call us to schedule a case consultation as quickly as possible.

What Are the Defenses Against a First-Time DUI Offense?

What are the defenses against a first time DUI offense

There are a few defenses that could be effective in your case. Some of the possibilities we might explore include the following:




  • The officer may not have had probable cause to pull you over.
  • You may have a medical condition that inaccurately elevates your blood alcohol concentration.
  • The sample may have been stored inaccurately, making the results unreliable.
  • The equipment may not have been appropriately calibrated, making the results unreliable. 

We will examine your case and decide which defense is strongest in your situation.

How Can a Lawyer Help Fight a First-Time DUI in California?

How can a lawyer help fight a first time DUI

Some of the ways an attorney may help you include:

Gather Evidence

We can help you gather evidence that could be used to formulate a strong defense. We can talk to witnesses and review the prosecution’s evidence to see if there are any holes in the case.

Conduct Legal Research and File Motions

We can also conduct legal research and file motions, including discovery motions, to ensure we can access all the information.


We can even negotiate on your behalf. We could strike a plea bargain that helps you keep your license and stay out of jail, or we could prevent charges from being filed altogether.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced DUI Attorneys Today

Schedule a free consultation

At Summit Defense, we believe you are innocent until proven guilty, and we can provide you with a strong defense.

If you are facing a first-offense DUI arrest, the penalties can be severe, and you could end up with a restricted license in addition to DUI probation.

Call us today to schedule a free case consultation for a first DUI offense California charge, and let us represent you.

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