Conviction for driving under the influence can bring severe consequences. Although the state of California classifies first and second DUI offenses as misdemeanors, the court can still impose hefty penalties. You may face anything from huge fines to a lengthy suspension of your driving privileges. In addition, conviction will result in a stain on your criminal record that can negatively affect your ability to gain future employment. Because of the far-reaching consequences of DUI conviction, it is vital that you consult with an experienced Ontario DUI lawyer.

Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Scott Henry have years of experience helping clients reduce or dismiss their DUI charges. We will examine your specific case and build the strongest defense strategy that you need.

These Are The Penalties for DUI in California

While a first-time DUI conviction alone can bring harsh penalties, the more offenses you have, the harsher the consequences. Here are the penalties you may face for DUI conviction in California:

First DUI Offense

Considered a misdemeanor, a first DUI offense can carry these penalties:

  • Up to a six month prison sentence;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one year or longer;
  • Required alcohol abuse counseling;
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle; and
  • Thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

Second DUI Offense

Though still considered a misdemeanor, a second DUI offense can carry harsher penalties, such as:

  • Up to a one year prison sentence;
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years, plus two years of a restricted license after that;
  • Up to 30 months of mandatory alcohol abuse counseling;
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle; and
  • Even more fines and fees worth thousands of dollars.

Third DUI Offense

A third DUI offense is considered a felony and carries the harshest penalties yet, such as:

  • Jail sentence of one year or longer;
  • Driver’s license revocation for as much as four years;
  • Total repossession of your car;
  • Required alcohol abuse counseling for 30 months;
  • Tens of thousands of dollars in fees and fines; and
  • Subjection to a very strict probationary period that could land you back in jail if violated.

In addition to the above immediate penalties, conviction for DUI can also result in long-term consequences. For instance, because DUI conviction lasts on your record for ten years, you will face inflated car insurance premiums and decreased credit. You may also have a tougher time gaining stable employment.

The DUI Court Process

After you’re arrest and booked at the police station, you will have to participate in a chemical blood-alcohol test. Also, you will need to relinquish your driver’s license and attain a temporary one instead.

Before you even speak to the police, ask to contact your lawyer. Having an effective Ontario DUI lawyer by your side will help prevent you from saying anything that may damage your case. Your lawyer can also help guide you throughout the entire DUI court process.

DMV Administrative Hearing

After relinquishing your driver’s license, you must request an administrative hearing at the DMV within ten days. With your experienced DUI lawyer, you can meet that deadline and challenge the revocation.

Arraignment Hearing

You will first meet the prosecutor and judge at your arraignment hearing. Here you will also plead guilty or not guilty.

Pre-Trial Negotiations

Your DUI lawyer will arrange pre-trial negotiations before your trial even starts. During these negotiations, your lawyer will attempt to secure a plea bargain that reduces the penalties you may face. If the plea bargain terms are fair and agreeable, then you will avoid needing to go to trial.

Trial

However, if your lawyer cannot negotiate a fair plea bargain, then your case will go to trial. Using their knowledge, your Ontario DUI lawyer will employ a defense strategy that challenges the evidence against you. For example, your lawyer can challenge the accuracy of chemical tests and field sobriety tests. In addition, your lawyer can even call to question the credibility of the arresting officer.

Sentencing Hearing

Conviction for DUI or obtaining a plea bargain will both result in a sentencing hearing that you must attend. During this hearing the court will ultimately decide your penalties. While the court is deciding, your lawyer can try to reduce those penalties that you may face.

Can You Remove a DUI Conviction from Your Record?

As stated above, conviction for DUI will remain on your record for ten full years. However, you can try to clear, or expunge, your conviction in certain circumstances. While this is often a complicated and unpredictable process, a knowledgeable lawyer can advise you as to whether you are eligible to do so or not.

Can You Avoid Paying Increased Auto Insurance Rates?

With the help of your lawyer, you may avoid paying increased auto insurance rates by avoiding the submission of an SR-22 form, which basically certifies your financial responsibility.

The Law Offices of Scott Henry

Hiring a seasoned Ontario DUI lawyer can allow you to effectively reduce or dismiss the charges that you may face. You lawyer can also guide you through the entire DUI process in order to meet important deadlines. With our extensive knowledge of the DUI court system in California, our experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Scott Henry is ready to protect your rights. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.