Penalties for a First Offense DUI in Marin County
DUIs are a rare type of criminal charge that often are the result of brief errors in judgement after drinking, rather than criminal or malicious intent. Most DUI offenders are facing criminal prosecution for the first time in their lives.
According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, 73% of people who were convicted for DUI offenses in 2016 were first offenders. Among those first offenders, 66% were sentenced to jail time and almost all received court-sanctioned probation. Let’s look more closely at the DUI law in California and how it applies to these first-time offenders.
California DUI Law
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is defined by the state as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher or while under the influence of drugs (either prescription medication or illegal substances). The state must show that the driver was impaired in some way and therefore not driving with the care and caution they would use if sober.
When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the police officer will often request they blow into a breathalyzer to attain their BAC. If their BAC is at or over the legal limit, or if the driver has failed another field sobriety test, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI.
Here in Marin County, first-time DUIs are typically charged as misdemeanors. California currently convicts about three out of every four drivers who’ve been charged, so if you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of driving while impaired, you’re most likely facing some type of sanction.
For a misdemeanor, you’re looking at up to $2,000 in fines ($1,738 plus $150 in restitution and $95 in administrative and criminal conviction fees). For those who might have trouble paying the fines, the state allows you to do a payment plan, requesting usually around $60 per month until you’re paid in full.
In the state of California, 66% of first DUI offenders who were arrested were sentenced to some jail time. The maximum sentence for a first offense (with no aggravating factors like injury or death from a resulting car accident) is up to six months in county jail. Many first offenders are sentenced to two to five days in Marin County jail. The Marin County Probation Department offers the Adult Offender Work Program as a jail alternative program, so offenders can earn one day of jail credit for every eight hours of manual labor that benefits the community (i.e., picking up trash or working at a Goodwill store).
Probation for first-time offenders is usually set at three years, during which time you cannot receive any more convictions. You cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system. Also, should you get pulled over again on suspicion of DUI, you’re no longer allowed to refuse the preliminary alcohol screening test.
In addition to fines, probation, and jail time, most offenders have their driver’s license suspended for six months or receive a restricted license that allows them to drive only to and from work for one year. A small percentage of drivers are given an ignition interlock restricted license, meaning they can only operate a vehicle with a special device installed. Finally, there are penalties that include mandatory AA meeting requirements, DUI school, and community service. DUI school typically requires 32 hours of participation for first offenders.
Most first-time DUI offenders are not charged with felonies in the state of California (compared to fourth-time offenders, who can earn up to three years in state prison). There are, however, a few exceptions. If your DUI offense involves an accident that causes injury, you could face a felony conviction, and if someone were to die, you could be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which earns a prison term of no more than ten years.
DUI Lawyer for Marin County
According to California’s DMV report, 991 of the state’s 123,548 arrests for DUIs in 2017 were in Marin County. If you’ve been pulled over in the Bay Area, you need a DUI Lawyer in Marin County. Attorney Aaron Bortel has almost 30 years of legal experience, most of which has been dedicated to assisting the people of Marin County mitigate the negative consequences of their DUI charges.
At the Law Offices of Aaron Bortel, we can help you avoid having your driver’s license suspended, reduce your fines, and prevent the charge from going on your permanent criminal record. We strive to have your DUI charge reduced or dropped entirely, which means you avoid jail time.
Attorney Aaron Bortel cares about his clients and works tirelessly to achieve the best results possible for them to ease their stress and anxiety throughout the entire legal process. We’ll build your best defense and shield you from the consequences of your momentary lapse in judgement.
When your future is on the line, choosing the right DUI lawyer can make all the difference. Contact us at the Law Offices of Aaron Bortel today for your free case evaluation.