It can be easy to make a mistake after a night out with friends or a happy hour event. If that mistake leads to charges of driving under the influence (DUI), though, a conviction could have a serious impact on your future, even if this is your first time facing charges. What should you know about facing DUI charges for the first time?
What are the penalties for DUI with no prior convictions?
The California vehicle code punishes drunk driving convictions particularly harshly, even with no prior convictions on a person’s record. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152, penalties for a first-time DUI include:
- At least 48 hours and up to 6 months in jail
- 4-month license suspension
- At least 3 months in a state-licensed DUI treatment program
- Between $390 and $1,000 in fines
Even after the terms of a conviction have been completed, the conviction will remain on your driving record for a decade. This means that any future drunk driving charges will be accompanied by even harsher penalties.
What could make these penalties even more serious?
Some factors can make the penalties for even a first time DUI more severe. Those with an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 or higher must undergo longer treatment programs, for example, and people involved in a crash must generally pay restitution in addition to court fines.
How can you push back against these penalties?
Because of the serious nature of the penalties for first-time DUI charges, people facing charges should seek experienced legal guidance when building their defense. They can examine the details of your case and help you explore other options like a pretrial diversion that may keep your case out of court. The right defense can prevent one mistake from impacting your finances and your freedom.