With the holiday season upon us, increased vigilance by the police looking fro drunk drivers comes to the forefront. Drivers that are intoxicated at the holidays pose increasing numbers risk to all motorists. California Vehicle code Section 23152(a)(b) is the basis for prosecution of  drunk drivers. These two sub sections deal with operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol reading of .08 or higher. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a “wobbler” in the State of California. What this means is that depending on the circumstances of the offense DUI can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The differences are primarily dealing with injury to others and/or property damage. A first time DUI conviction results in a $395 fine which is multiplied by 4-5 times for various fees that are tacked onto the fine itself. The fees include victim restitution funds, education funds, etc.

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Therefore,  the penalties of a first time DUI conviction can be quite severe and are not to be scoffed at.  The jail time for the first time DUI defendant is 48 hours. You will get “credit” for the time you were jailed following your arrest toward this time period.  Besides the fine, you will be placed on 3 years of summary probation. This means that you will not be supervised probation. However, if you get arrested within three years from the date of your conviction, aside from the new criminal charge, you could be facing a probation violation which could result in increased fines, jail time, etc. The first time DUI offender will have their California Drivers License suspended for a period of 90 days. After 30 days, you may get your license back from the DMV (once again for a fee) and will have the license issued to you on a restricted basis. What the restriction of your license will allow you to do is to drive to and from your work, and to and from the alcohol school. Once again, fees for the alcohol school are substantial and must be paid by you. The purpose of the school is to get you to change your behavior and not drink and drive. The school may last up to 6 months. The courts are not very tolerant of defendants who do not comply with the terms of their sentence. I have had judges tell defendants in open court, that since they did the crime, it is not the intention of the court to make things easy for them. Therefore, compliance is required. 

The court could issue an order to have you visit to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) for their education and could order you to a visit to the Los Angeles County Morgue to observe autopsies of persons killed by drunk drivers. All in all, not a wonderful scenario  The court could also order the insertion of an ignition interlock device in your car. This device will not allow you to drive if you are found to be under the influence. You must blow into a machine which will measure your blood alcohol level. If you are under the influence, the car will not start. Once again, you will get “opportunity” to pay for this. 

If this is not your first rodeo in the DUI arena, jail time increases, time of license suspension increases as do the fines. DUI convictions can involve “moral turpitude” issues regarding professional licenses. I know of cases where attorneys have been disbarred for repeated DUI convictions. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not become ensnared in this web of fines, fees, and related problems. If you do party use the designated driver, call a cab, stay at a hotel, friends house, etc. A cab fare is a lot less expensive that a DUI !!! 

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