When a person gets behind the wheel after having something alcoholic to drink, they take a dangerous gamble. First, they gamble with their own life and safety by making the assumption that there won’t be any kind of incident when they drive. Even skilled drivers can struggle to respond appropriately to changing traffic conditions while under the influence of alcohol.
If a driver doesn’t encounter wildlife in the street or other issues that force them to make a split-second decision, they risk the possibility of encountering law enforcement officers either on patrol or conducting sobriety checkpoints. An arrest for drunk driving can lead to a criminal record and multiple consequences.
The police in California invest substantial resources in enforcing laws against driving under the influence (DUI). What penalties will a driver face the first time they get arrested for a DUI offense?
Court, fines and license suspension are the risks
Generally, a first DUI charge will be a misdemeanor unless you cause a crash or injury to others. The incarceration for a first-time California DUI is minimal. You might spend two days in jail or just have to perform community service.
The financial costs are higher. You will need to pay up to $1,000 in fines. The court could order you to complete a DUI education program, to participate in probation or to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, all of which could have out-of-pocket costs. The offense will increase how much it costs for you to insure your vehicle.
Of course, you might not be able to drive for a while after your arrest. Drivers arrested for or convicted of a DUI will also lose their license for several months.
A first conviction puts you at risk for future issues
DUI offenses are charges that have a high recidivism rate. After a first arrest, you may get arrested again in the future. If you do, the state will pursue more significant penalties with each subsequent arrest and criminal charge. Additionally, each charge affects your driving record and will increase what it costs to insure your vehicle.
Finally, a history of impaired driving can limit your options in life, ranging from scholarship eligibility to different career paths. Fighting back against a DUI can help you avoid these penalties and worse consequences in the future if you get arrested again.