A first-time DUI in California can result in consequences ranging from misdemeanor probation to time in jail.
Defendants may be able to continue driving if they are granted an "IID restricted license," which requires them to keep an ignition interlock device (IID) in their car for four months.
But first-time DUI defendants who do not get an IID restricted license may endure up to a 6-month's driver's license suspension unless; the driver requests a California DMV hearing and wins, or if the driver is not convicted of a DUI in court.
All in all, consequences of a first-time DUI conviction in California can include:
- 3 to 5 years of informal probation (typically 3 years)
- DUI school ranging from 3 to 9 months
- Fines and penalty assessments totaling between $1,500 and $2,000 (depending on the county)
- A 6-month driver's license suspension (though people may be able to get a restricted license or drive immediately with an IID restricted license)
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for six months (unless the defendant chooses not to drive);
- Up to 6 months in jail (depending on the county)
- In some counties, work release
- Indirect consequences (such as increased car insurance premiums and harsher penalties if the defendant gets convicted of a subsequent DUI).
A DUI arrest triggers two types of legal proceedings
Being arrested for driving under the influence subjects the driver to two sets of proceedings:
- A jury trial or a bench trial in a California criminal court, and
- A California DMV license suspension hearing.
The California DMV cannot find a defendant or put him or her in jail. It can only suspend the defendant's license. It will suspend a license automatically unless the defendant timely requests – and then prevails at a hearing but getting a DMV hearing is not automatic. The defendant must request one within 10 days of being arrested.
However if you hire an attorney, it's typically to represent you in the DMV proceedings and criminal court. Having the same attorney work on both aspects of your case can lead to better outcomes, including a shorter license-suspension period.