There are many different reasons people consume alcohol in California and, for the most part, there is nothing wrong with consuming alcohol from time to time. However, when people consume too much alcohol, it can lead to poor decisions, which have various effects on their lives. They say something they regret later or embarrass themselves in front of co-workers. They could also do things that break the law and could result in criminal charges.

One of the criminal charges that can result from consuming too much alcohol is a DUI. There are serious potential consequences even for a first time DUI such as criminal charges and separate driver’s license hearings. The potential driver’s license suspension is a separate proceeding from the criminal charges.

Criminal Consequences

If people are charged with a DUI, they first need to be convicted before they realize any consequences, but if they are convicted, they need to spend at least 96 hours in jail with at least 48 hours being consecutive but could be sentenced up to six months in jail. The jail time can be enforced on days that do not interfere with the person’s work schedule. They will also be fined between $390 and $1,000. Additionally, the court can impose costs, penalties and other assessments that can increase the actual cash out of your pocket by over double.

Driver’s License Suspension

For a first time DUI people’s driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months. Before one can reinstate the license, they also must complete a DUI program, demonstrate they have valid insurance and pay all the reinstatement fees. If people have a BAC above .15% and had a previous DUI or refused to submit to a test, they may be required to complete a nine-month program effectively lengthening their suspension.

If people have a BAC above .20% their driver’s license could be suspended for 10 months and be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. If people injure another person while driving under the influence, the suspension would be one year.

No one in California wants to spend time in jail or lose their license for any period of time. It can be very difficult to get around without a license. It is important to know that people are not automatically guilty, and guilt of the criminal DUI must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There may be defenses available to people, such as whether the police had a valid reason to stop one’s vehicle, among others. It is important for people to know their rights and consulting with an experienced attorney could be helpful.