Perhaps you enjoyed happy hour with friends in downtown San Diego but felt OK to drive home afterward.
However, on your way up the freeway to Encinitas, law enforcement pulled you over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). What kind of penalties do you face?
Penalties for a first offense
Keep in mind that in addition to alcohol, DUI can refer to the use of legal or illegal drugs or even over-the-counter medications. If your DUI charge is a first offense, you may pay fines and fees of up to $3,600. You could spend up to six months in jail, attend three months of DUI school and endure DUI probation of three to five years.
The penalties escalate with subsequent offenses. For example, for a second DUI, the court could order 18 to 30 months of DUI school and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. For a third offense, you could pay as much as $18,000 in fines and spend up to 16 months in state prison.
Your driving privileges
The administrative side of a DUI conviction involves the loss of driving privileges, a crippling penalty for any California driver. For a first offense, license suspension can be four months or longer. For a second offense, the term is up to two years and for a third offense, up to three years.
A look ahead
In California, a DUI mark remains on your driving record for 10 years. In addition, you may experience difficulties when you apply for a new job, go to rent an apartment or try to qualify for financial aid. Your auto insurance premiums will also increase substantially and remain at a high level for several years. Given the possible disruptions to your life, you should not delay in seeking legal help. You have rights and you will want the best outcome possible for your case.