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Don’t Ring in the New Year with a DUI

By Joseph Low on December 30, 2016

Find out what California law says about DUIs, so you don’t ring in the New Year with one. More importantly, learn what to do if you’re charged.

The holiday season is a time of celebrating with friends and ringing in the New Year, often with libations and refreshments. While it may seem innocent enough at the time, it can be too easy after a good holiday party to get behind the wheel of your car – even if you’ve had one too many to drink.

Fines and penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) have become much harsher in California than they were in the past. And judges have been known to bring down strict penalties for even first-time offenders. For these reasons, and for the safety of yourself and others on the road, it’s important to understand what California law says about drinking and driving.

California DUI Law

Under California law, it is illegal for adults 21 years of age and older to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. When driving commercial vehicles, even if it’s just driving the company truck back after the office party, those levels become even lower with no more than 0.04% or higher allowed.

Individuals that are younger than 21 years of age are not legally allowed to drink under California law. Because of this, young people cannot be found driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.01% or higher.

California DUI Penalties

The New Year is a time to start anew, with a fresh slate. A DUI charge from one mistake is certainly going to be a cloud over that new beginning. Not only does a DUI conviction stay on your record for ten years under California law, but it could also result in one or more of the following penalties.

  • Fines. For a first-time offense, the minimum fine in California is $390. But that amount is largely left up to the judge’s discretion and, after court fees, that “small” fine could equal thousands of dollars.
  • Prison sentences. Nearly all DUI convictions come with at least some jail time, even if it’s just for 24 hours until your lawyer arrives. Typically first-time offenders will receive just a few days in jail, but even first-timers have been known to get as much as six months. Repeat offenses can see jail time as long as a year or more.
  • Treatment. Alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs are mandatory for DUI offenders. Treatment after the first conviction costs $500 at the offender’s expense.Repeat convictions can cost offenders thousands of dollars and be required for up to two and a half years.
  • Suspended license. There’s no doubt about it, offenders charged with a DUI lose their license through suspension, at least for a few months. License suspensions can last for several years, especially when it’s not a first offense.

In addition to the above penalties, DUIs and DWIs will almost always come with probation after the jail sentence, and interlocking devices might be required on the offender’s car. These are also at the offender’s expense, and can be costly to install.
Nobody wants to ring in the New Year with a DUI, but if you’ve made a mistake and need help, call The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV toll-free at (888) 454-5569 or in the Long Beach area, at (562) 901-0840. When you let attorney Joseph H. Low IV handle your case, you can be sure it’s in the right hands.

Posted in: DUI

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