The costs and inconvenience of a driving under the influence—or DUI—arrest are extreme in San Clemente, and penalties for even first-time offenders are tougher than they used to be. If you’re convicted, you’ll lose your license—and that’s just the beginning. Fines, jail time, and DUIs on your permanent record are all possible outcomes of a DUI arrest. However, don’t assume that there’s no hope for your case just because you’ve found yourself with a DUI. The right legal representation can save you a lot of money and potentially protect you from the more extreme penalties. You need a San Clemente DUI lawyer.
We can get you in touch with the best local DUI lawyer for your case. They’ll look at the details of your arrest, alcohol tests, and more to build the best defense with the best outcome in mind. For a FREE case evaluation with a DUI lawyer, contact us today. Call (310) 862-0199 today or fill out the form to your right.
What Are the Consequences of a DUI In San Clemente?
The penalties for a first-offense DUI used to be less extreme, but all DUI offenses have been treated more harshly throughout the country in recent years. DUI convictions bring in a lot of money for the city and are also a popular topic for politicians.
The sentence for a first-time DUI is steep, and they increase with each subsequent offense. Here’s what you can expect in potential penalties with each level of DUI arrest.
First-Time DUI Conviction Penalties
Under California law, the first DUI conviction is treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Both are criminal offenses, but misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies. If your DUI is charged as a felony, you’ll likely face tougher sentences and you’ll obtain a felon status that can affect significant areas of your life, such as your basic rights and career options. For this reason, your DUI lawyer will seek to get you the lightest conviction.
If convicted of DUI for the first time, you can face the following penalties:
Driver’s license suspension
After you’re arrested and before you’ve had a trial, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, will place an administrative suspension on your license. (You can try to fight this by contacting the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to request a hearing.)
If you’re then convicted of the DUI, your license will be suspended as a criminal penalty of he DUI. A six-month license suspension typically results from a first-time DUI conviction. First-time offenders can usually apply for restricted license privileges, which would allow you to drive to/from work or school. With a restricted license, you’ll also have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car.
You could face 48 hours to six months in jail for a first offense. However, in many cases the judge will be lenient for a first offense and order probation, meaning there will be no mandatory jail time.
As a first DUI offender, you’ll typically receive three years of informal probation during which you’ll need to complete a 30-hour DUI school. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.20% or more, the program lasts for 60 hours and nine months.
You’ll face between $390 and $1,000 in fines for a first DUI along with “penalty assessments” that can greatly increase what you owe—adding up to at least several thousands of dollars.
Second DUI Conviction Penalties
A second DUI conviction is a misdemeanor in the State of California. Penalties include:
Driver’s license suspension
You’ll have a two-year suspension plus a 12-month administrative suspension in your BAC was .08% or more. These suspensions can typically overlap. And you can apply for a restricted license like with a first offense DUI. However, all second-time DUI offenders have to use an IID for 12 months or more.
The second DUI offense comes with 96 hours to a year in jail, but it can sometimes be served through work programs or while on house arrest.
Second offense fines are the same as first offense fines, plus penalty assessment fees.
Typically, the second offense includes a three-year informal probation period where the defendant must finish an 18-month or 30-month DUI school.
Third DUI Conviction Penalties
A third offense is also typically considered a misdemeanor in San Clemente and carries the following penalties:
Driver’s license suspension
Restrictions are the same as a second DUI except you must have an IID for at least two years.
For a third DUI, you’ll face a 120-day to a one-year jail sentence or 30 days if probation is granted and you’re ordered to complete 30 months of DUI school.
The fines for a third DUI are the same as the first and second.
Most people who receive a third DUI receive 3-5 years of informal probation. During this time, the judge can order you to complete a 30-month DUI school.
A DUI counts as a prior conviction for 10 years.
What If Someone Was Injured or Killed?
If someone was injured during a DUI accident you caused, penalties are typically more severe than for a standard DUI conviction. Your DUI can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, your DUI can send you to prison for between 16 months and four years with fines ranging between $390 and $5,000.
If someone was killed as a result of your DUI, you’ll usually be prosecuted under California’s murder or vehicular manslaughter laws that can result in either of the following charges:
- Second-degree murder
- Negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
Penalties for these charges can range from up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines to 15 years to life in prison.
Three Things to Look for in a DUI Lawyer
Since the penalties for a DUI offense can be harsh, especially without an experienced lawyer, here are three things you should always look for when choosing your legal representation:
A great DUI lawyer will have plenty of history in this field, including a solid track record of victories for their clients, board-certified DUI expertise, and training in DUI defense. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of experience.
A True Focus on DUI Cases
A lawyer can say they’re a DUI lawyer, but unless they focus exclusively on DUI cases, they don’t have the level of expertise you need. Seek an attorney who only works on DUI cases. They’ll know exactly what’s needed to provide you the best chance of walking away with the minimum penalties.
Offers a Free Case Evaluation
If an attorney wants to charge you just for a consultation with them, walk the other way. It’s not standard practice for an experienced DUI lawyer to make you pay for talking to them about your case. Look for someone who is confident in offering you a free consultation, no strings attached.
Talk to a San Clemente DUI Lawyer Today
Working through a DUI charge is stressful and often confusing. You deserve the best DUI attorney possible, so let us connect you with one from the San Clemente area. For a FREE consultation with a top DUI lawyer in your location, call us today at (310) 862-0199, or fill out the form to the right.