Our state laws prohibit an individual from driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). While the legal blood alcohol (BAC) limit is .08%, if under 21, the limit is .01% and for commercial drivers driving a commercial vehicle it is .04%. These are very stringent limits and it is easy for someone to make a mistake. Have you or a loved one been accused of a first offense DUI? If so, please contact an experienced Orange County first offense DUI lawyer at The Law Offices of Scott Henry. You can put your situation in the hands of our legal team and rest easy knowing that we will carefully evaluate the evidence, recommend a sound course of action and work hard to protect your rights.

Our firm is fortunate to have a lead attorney with a proven track record of DUI-client representation. Mr. Henry case results, as a private defense attorney, are impressive and the respect that he has garnered from judges, district attorneys, police officers, expert witnesses, and other private defense attorneys is remarkable. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Will I Lose My Driver’s License After a First Offense DUI?

A first DUI offense can carry serious penalties, and one of the most immediate is the potential loss of your driver’s license. After you’re arrested, the police will confiscate your driver’s license and provide you with a notice of potential suspension and a temporary license. They will also send a copy of the notice to the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Once it receives this notice, the DMV will typically suspend your driving privileges.

You can fight this suspension, but it’s crucial that you act quickly — you only have ten days to request a DMV hearing once you receive your notice of suspension. If you fail to appeal within this ten-day deadline or lose your appeal, you will:

  • Lose your driver’s license for at least four months
  • Carry more expensive SR-22 auto insurance once you get your license back
  • Receive a significant number of points on your driver’s license
  • Pay fees to the DMV that are associated with the loss and reinstatement of your license

While you may be eligible for a restricted license that allows you to travel to and from school or work, you should still take the DMV administrative process seriously. You are never guaranteed a restricted license.

It’s important to remember that the loss of your driver’s license and criminal prosecution are not tied together. Instead, they are two separate legal processes that involve different standards and procedures. You will need to address both the administrative DMV process and your criminal prosecution. The DUI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Henry can assist you with both matters if you have been charged with drinking and driving for the first time.

Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense in Orange County

First, you are innocent until proven guilty, and you should never assume that you’ll be criminally convicted. Second, even if you are convicted, your sentence will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI. However, California law does set some guidelines surrounding first offense DUI sentencing.

There are two types of proceedings that you will go through: the criminal court process and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) process. At the criminal sentencing, you may be fined, serve jail time, and be penalized in other ways. In the DMV proceeding, you have only 10 days to request an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing to attempt to save you from a driver’s license suspension.

If convicted, you may face:

  • Mandatory jail time that may range from several days to six months
  • Probation for up to five years
  • Up to nine months of DUI classes
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Other financial penalties that may add thousands of dollars to your “bill”
  • Suspended driver’s license (even if you won your DMV administrative appeal)
  • Mandatory interlock system on your vehicle
  • Court order to wear an alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet, sometimes called a SCRAM
  • Drug and alcohol abuse counseling or rehabilitation

Furthermore, your DUI conviction may permanently stay on your record — unless you can get an expungement. Finally, if you’re convicted of additional DUIs in the following ten years, you may face even more penalties.

A DUI conviction, even a first-time offense, may impact your ability to find work or housing. And you may also have to report your DUI to professional licensing bodies. Because of these serious consequences, you should contact a local attorney as soon as possible after being charged with your first DUI offense.

Is a First Offense DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Typically, a first-time DUI is treated as a misdemeanor. However, certain circumstances can elevate it to felony charges. Under California law, prosecutors can charge you with a felony if you seriously injured or killed someone while driving under the influence. In felony cases, you may be sentenced with much higher penalties, including more than ten years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, court-ordered restitution, and up to a 30-month substance abuse program.

If you or someone you loved was involved in a DUI where someone was seriously injured, you’ll need to build a robust defense to protect yourself.

DUI Defense Strategy in Orange County

Every DUI case is unique. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we use our years of experience, including significant time prosecuting drunk driving cases, to our clients’ advantage. We will carefully investigate your case, looking for procedural errors and other issues that may weaken the government’s case. And once we fully understand your circumstances, extenuating factors, and legal defenses, we craft sophisticated legal strategies that aim at reducing or eliminating a conviction or criminal penalties.

In first-time DUI cases, you may also be eligible for alternative sentencing, where you avoid jail time and participate in community service, house arrest, or sober living. We can help you understand this option and its availability in your case.

Speak with an Orange County First Offense DUI Attorney

If you or someone you love was recently charged with a first offense DUI, you’re probably overwhelmed and uncertain about what happens next. Don’t try to handle this serious matter alone. Reclaim control of the situation by consulting with an experienced Orange County first offense DUI lawyer. Depending on your circumstances, you may have a variety of legal options and defenses.

Our Locations
Attorney Scott Henry: Criminal & DUI Defense