Legal Options for Handling a First Offense DUI

So here you are in an unexpected pickle: You have a first DUI offense and it’s time to make some progress in dealing with it.

Clearly you are not alone in your predicament. San Francisco 49er’s superstar Aldon Smith has been making big DUI headlines a bit lately. As one American put it, “Your best teacher is your last mistake.” There are ways to possibly reduce your sentence so that you can turn focus to the road ahead.

That road involves getting yourself driving again in a responsible manner that proves a growing track record of success to the courts and to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Just how is this accomplished? Let’s take a closer look.

The first step will be to identify and scrutinize the exact category of your first DUI offense.  Driving under the influence (DUI) is charged to California drivers according to these categories:

  • Drivers Under 21 – Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) LIMIT = 0.01%
  • Adult Drivers – Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) LIMIT = 0.08%
  • Commercial Drivers – Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) LIMIT = 0.04%

With the help of an attorney who specializes in DUI, you may be able to get the DUI charge thrown out. Typically, your defense claim might be that the sobriety testing was administered improperly or that the officer involved did not actually have probable cause to be testing you for DUI. If this can be proven, you’re off the hook.

If that’s not the case, with a first offense DUI, you can expect county jail time equaling anywhere from four days to six months (of which 48 hours shall be continuous). If you have a sparkling record coming into this, another route to consider with the help of an attorney is an appeal to the courts for full consideration of your record. We all do make mistakes, and if it can be strongly demonstrated that this is not part of a larger pattern, but instead a one-time lapse, you might be able to plead for a lesser charge, avoid incarceration and see a reduction of your fines. The financial legal penalty for a first time DUI in California will range between $390 to $1,000.

California law will also require you to enroll in a DUI class after a conviction. These courses are designed to promote awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving and aim to prevent a future occurrence. A typical class will require a 30-hour commitment to complete. Sometimes called alcohol education programs (AEP), an added benefit of these programs is that faithful completion can sometimes bring a reduction of fines and elimination or reduction of jail time, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Community service becomes a popular choice for many when seeking to reduce fines: It’s a matter of paying with money or paying with time. So if money is tight, asking the courts to convert some of your fines into community service may be beneficial. There will sometimes be a fine involved along with the service request, but the courts hear these requests often and have protocols in place to resolve the matter. According to the DUI foundation, some of the more popular community service programs for first offense DUI include:

  • Speaking in front of groups about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving
  • Helping anti-drunk driving associations
  • Cleaning up highways
  • Volunteering at charities

Bringing on an attorney to help your cause is typically the strongest path forward. Avoid the snares of legal and financial mistakes by setting yourself up for a favorable outcome with a strong team behind you. A first DUI offense need not hold you down for the long term; with proper counsel, you can work quickly toward reinstating your license and, more importantly, reinstating your peace of mind. If you are handling your first DUI offense, contact the experienced attorneys at the Liskey Law Firm today.

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