As a result of campaigns by groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, to raise public awareness about the risks associated with drinking and driving, the laws relating to driving under the influence, or DUI, have changed dramatically across the United States over the past several decades. Specifically, the possible penalties for a driving under the influence conviction in California are now more severe than they once were. Moreover, the penalties you face for a DUI are not limited to those imposed by a judge during your sentencing. Often, the non-judicial penalties are equally harsh and even longer lasting than the judicial penalties.
A first-time conviction for Dui in California could result in a term of incarceration of four days to six months; however, it is unusual for a first-time offender to be ordered to serve any substantial amount of time in jail unless there were significant aggravating circumstances present during the arrest. Instead of jail time, most first-time offenders are ordered to serve of period of time on probation. What most people do not pay attention to, however, is that even a first-time offender is typically sentenced to a period of incarceration but that time is suspended and spent on probation instead. The actual sentence though can be implemented should you violate our probation.
For many people, the conditions of probation can be time consuming, costly, and inconvenient. You could be ordered to have an alcohol and drug evaluation done, participate in rehabilitation, attend AA meetings, and/or go through the MADD Victim Impact Program – all of this while maintain employment or enrollment in school. You may also be ordered to pay fines, costs, and restitution and/or perform community work service hours.
On top of all those penalties, however, you may face the following non-judicial penalties:
- Increased insurance rates
- License suspension
- Loss of a commercial driver’s license
- Disciplinary action if you hold a professional license
- Interference with visitation with minor children
- Termination from your job
- Disqualification from future employment
All in all the penalties and long-term ramifications of a conviction for DUI in California can be significant and costly, both in terms of dollars and cents and in terms of time. If you have been charged with driving under the influence in California, consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your legal options and possible defenses.
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