A first-time DUI might not sound too bad, but it can have serious penalties and leave a lasting criminal record. You need a strong defense team that can reduce your charges and minimize the consequences of a first-time DUI charge.

Arrested for a first offense DUI in Folsom, CA? Call Walsh Law today at 916-237-8270 or use our online contact form to reach out to an experienced Folsom first-offense DUI lawyer.

First Offense DUI Laws in California

A first-time charge for driving under the influence (DUI) (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC) in California is typically a misdemeanor offense. This means that you have never received a DUI in the past or you haven’t received one in the last 10 years.

DUI is also called DWI (driving while impaired) in some states. However, California exclusively uses “DUI” for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What Is a Look-Back Period?

It’s important to know that California uses a 10-year look-back period. That means that if you have received a DUI within the last 10 years, you will be charged with a second or multiple offense, which can lead to more serious penalties. If your previous DUIs took place 10 years ago or more, then you will be charged as if it were your first offense.

Legal Limits for Alcohol in California

California’s legal limit for adult drivers over the age of 21 is .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

BAC limits for other drivers include:

  • Underage drivers: .01%
  • Commercial drivers: .04%
  • Taxis and other passenger for hire vehicle drivers: .04%
  • Individual on DUI probation: .01%

If you have a BAC over these levels as one of these individuals, then you may receive a “per se” DUI under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC.

Can I Get a DUI If My BAC Isn’t Over the Legal Limit?

Even if you do not have a BAC level over the legal limit, you may be charged with DUI if you appear to be intoxicated while driving. The arresting officer may use their observations as well as standard field sobriety tests (SFST), such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand tests. These tests are notoriously unreliable.

What If My BAC Is Much Higher than the Legal Limit?

A BAC of 0.15% or higher is an aggravating factor in a DUI case. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23578 VC), you can receive more severe penalties if you are convicted of a high BAC DUI.

Legal Limits for a Marijuana DUI

Driving while intoxicated by marijuana is illegal in California, and you can be arrested for marijuana DUI. There is no “per se” limit for THC (the active intoxicating ingredient in marijuana). Instead, law enforcement uses their observations and standard field sobriety tests to determine if a person is intoxicated by weed.

Drug DUI

You can also receive a DUI charge if you are driving while under the influence of drugs. This applies to illegal controlled substances as well as prescription drugs. If you are pulled over and the officer believes you are too intoxicated to drive, you will be arrested.

Charges Related to First Offense DUI

A first-offense DUI can result in serious consequences, but it is possible to reduce your charges with offenses that are somewhat related to a DUI. Some aggravating factors can also add to your charges and penalties.

  • Reckless Driving (California Vehicle Code Section 23103 VC): This misdemeanor offense is typically seen as more favorable than a DUI. It involves driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property.
  • Wet Reckless: This is the specific nickname commonly given to a DUI that has been pleaded down to reckless driving.
  • Child Endangerment (California Penal Code Section 273a PC): If you are convicted of DUI while there were children under the age of 14 in your vehicle, you could face child endangerment charges.
  • DUI with Injury (California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC): If you are convicted of DUI and you injured a third party in an accident, then you may face additional penalties. This offense is a wobbler, so it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Penalties for a First Offense DUI in California

A first-time DUI is a misdemeanor, and the specific penalties you will face vary by county in California. Some of the common criminal penalties include:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • Fines of up to $2,000
  • Three to five years of informal (summary) probation
  • DUI driving school
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) installation
  • Work release program

When you work with an experienced first-offense DUI lawyer, it is typically possible to get probation instead of jail time and installation of an IID instead of a driver’s license suspension. If your attorney can get your charges reduced to a wet reckless, you may face minimal penalties.

Administrative Driver’s License Suspension

If you are arrested for a first-time DUI, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver’s license for between six and 10 months. You have 10 days after your driver’s license is taken from you by the police officer to request a hearing to challenge the suspension.

If your license is suspended, a first-offense DUI lawyer may be able to get you a restricted license to drive to school, work, and other important places so that you can maintain your family’s needs.

Other Potential Consequences of a First Offense DUI

In addition to the criminal penalties you may face for a first offense DUI, you may also be subject to:

  • Inability to travel to other countries
  • Substance abuse treatment programs
  • Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings
  • Participation in a Mothers Against Drug Driving (MADD) program
  • Victim restitution

Defenses to a First Offense DUI in Folsom

A first-time DUI can have serious penalties that you need to avoid so that you can continue with your normal life. First-offense DUI lawyer Chris Walsh knows how to fight charges like yours. He handles first-time DUIs frequently, and he has honed his skills in developing strong defenses.

A good defense may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped. Some commonly used defenses in first-time DUI cases include:

There Was a Lack of Probable Cause for the Stop

The police must have a valid reason to pull you over. If the officer did not have probable cause, any evidence obtained from the stop, including field sobriety tests, breathalyzer results, and blood tests, may be inadmissible in court.

Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) Were Administered Improperly

SFSTs are not foolproof and can be influenced by factors such as fatigue, anxiety, and medical conditions. If the SFSTs were not administered properly or if the officer did not correctly interpret the results, the evidence from the tests may be unreliable.

There Are Faulty Breathalyzer or Blood Test Results

Breathalyzers and blood tests can also produce inaccurate results due to calibration errors, improper sample collection, or contamination. If there is evidence that the breathalyzer or blood test was not functioning properly, the results may be challenged.

You Were Not Under the Influence

This defense argues that you were not actually under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest. This may involve challenging the officer’s observations of your behavior, presenting evidence of your sobriety, or introducing expert testimony about the effects of alcohol or drugs.

You Have Medical Conditions That Mimic Intoxication

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, or medications, can mimic the symptoms of intoxication. If you have a medical condition that could explain your behavior, you may be able to provide evidence to support this defense.

First Offense DUI FAQs

Can I get a first-offense DUI expunged in California?

Yes, you can get a first-time DUI expunged from your permanent criminal record once you complete your DUI probation and other requirements of your sentence.

What happens if I refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical test for a DUI?

Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical test in California can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. In many cases, you will have more severe penalties. Additionally, the officer can still use their observations to prove that you were intoxicated. You should think carefully before refusing a DUI test in California.

Do I need to hire an attorney for a first-time DUI?

While you are not legally required to hire an attorney for a first-time DUI, it is highly recommended. An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand your charges, your rights, and your options. They can also represent you in court and help you negotiate a plea agreement.

You will likely be offered a public defender. Although public defense attorneys work hard, they are overloaded with cases and do not have much time to spend on each case. Walsh Law will dedicate time to you and provide you with top-notch legal services.

Get Help from a Folsom First Offense DUI Lawyer

The penalties for a first-offense DUI conviction include jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension and more. You shouldn’t face this situation alone. Walsh Law will review all the evidence against you and work to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

Call 916-237-8270 today or fill out our secure contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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