If you’re asking “I got a DUI, is my life over?” then the unthinkable has already happened and you find yourself pondering both your alcohol use and the implications of a drunk driving conviction.
According to NHTSA, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving in the United States reached an all-time low in 2019.
This is no cause for celebration, though, as more than 10,000 people still lost their lives that year alone through drunk-driving crashes, the equivalent of one person dying on the hour every hour throughout the year. For those that are dealing with alcohol addiction problems, there are treatment centers like Huntington Beach rehabs and sober living homes in place to help all those who are struggling with addiction.
Before we explore the likely outcome of a DUI in California and what this means for you, some basics on what DUI means.
I Got a DUI, Now What?
DUI (driving under the influence) is sometimes referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated). Sometimes, the terms refer to the same offense, but sometimes a DWI also involves being under the influence of drugs. It is illegal to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) level of 0.08% or above in all fifty states.
Some states have laws close to zero tolerance, and some states implement lowered BAC levels for young drivers. In the case of DUIs where BAC readings are especially high, penalties are typically harsher. BAC levels are usually established through a blood, urine, or breath test.
Failing a sobriety test means you’ll be headed for a court hearing, but will you be facing a misdemeanor or a felony?
Many first-time DUI convictions are classified as misdemeanors, but sentence enhancement can turn a DUI into a felony crime. Sentence enhancement can occur in any of the following circumstances:
- Elevated BAC levels
- Prior convictions for DUI
- Bodily harm caused by a driver under the influence
- DUIs with children present in the vehicle
- Driving with a suspended license
- Breaking other laws
Assuming you have been involved in a DUI, you may be wondering, “Now what?”
Here is a checklist of things to consider after being arrested for driving under the influence:
- Comply with the request for a chemical test
- Engage the services of a DUI attorney
- Consider bail requirements, if any
- Request a DMV hearing
- Prepare to enter a plea
1) Comply with the request for a chemical test
Refusing to take a chemical test establishing precise BAC levels is punishable by law.
You may have declined a field sobriety test to buy yourself time, but make sure you comply with any subsequent request for a chemical sobriety test.
2) Engage the services of a DUI attorney
You should opt for a specialist DUI attorney rather than seeking general counsel.
DUI laws are intricate and you need someone who intimately understands these laws and the process if you want to minimize the damage of a DUI conviction.
3) Consider bail requirements, if any
You may need to post bail before being released. If this occurs and you don’t want to pay upfront, a bail bondsman will take care of things for a set fee. All you need to do to satisfy your end of the bargain is turn up for the court hearing.
4) Request a DMV hearing
You have a ten-day window after your arrest for DUI to make a formal request for a DMV hearing.
If you fail to make this request, your license will be automatically suspended.
5) Prepare to enter a plea
If you plead not guilty, you will benefit from trial by jury and the ability to defend yourself. You’ll enter your plea during the arraignment phase of proceedings.
What Happens When You Have a DUI
No two DUIs are the same, but even with myriad variables, there are many common consequences you can expect, including:
- Restricted driving privileges
- Financial consequences, both short-term and long-term
- Increased car insurance premiums
- Requirement to undergo assessment for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder
- Possibility of probation
- Inconvenience of attending alcohol education programs
- Outside chance of jail time
- Installation of ignition interlock device
- Stigma in the workplace
DUI in California
In most cases, DUIs in California are resolved with no jail time involved. These situations, on the other hand, may involve jail time:
- When there is damage to property
- In the event of a serious accident
- In cases of personal injury
When convicted of a standard DUI in California, you will subsequently need to undertake an alcohol education program lasting for three months. If your BAC levels were 0.15% or above, this program will last for six to nine months.
You will face three years of probation with fees and fines costing around $2000.
Your driver’s license will be suspended, although you may obtain a one-month temporary license.
For DUIs in California where BAC levels are 0.08% or above, there is a four-month license suspension. Enrolling in the alcohol education program allows you to request a temporary restricted license so you can travel directly to and from school or work. Your license will not be reinstated until you complete the court-ordered alcohol education program.
Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) usually allows you to continue driving.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction in California
If your internet search history is studded with entries like “I got a DUI in California”, today’s guide should show you what to expect.
Here at The District Recovery Center, we can help you if you need to engage with a DUI treatment program mandated by the court. We can also help if you choose to engage with treatment voluntarily.
Our evidence-based outpatient programs for alcohol use disorder utilize medication-assisted treatment in combination with psychotherapy (CBT and DBT) and counseling (individual and group) as well as holistic therapies for a whole-body approach to recovery.
If you received a DUI and are constantly thinking, “I got a DUI, is my life over?” it may be time to look inward for a change. Move beyond alcohol abuse and reduce your chances of a second DUI. Reach out to The District today at 844.287.8506.