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How Will Getting Charged With a DUI Affect My Life?

 Posted on August 05,2019 in Criminal Defense

Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney

No matter if you are a first time or repeat offender, getting charged with a DUI will have a huge impact on your life. How much it will affect you depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, such as who was in the car, any prior convictions, and whether any others were injured or killed as a result of driving while intoxicated. Even in cases without circumstances that would increase the charges, a DUI can lead to a license suspension, jail time (often, though not always, served in an “alternative to custody” program), and fines. 

When an officer pulls you over, they may have a suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated. However, even if you are pulled over for another traffic offense, such as speeding, you can still be arrested for DUI if the officer has probable cause to make an arrest that you are under the influence. An officer may determine probable cause by talking with you, observing you, conducting field sobriety tests, and/or administering a portable breath test. 

Most first-time DUI charges are considered misdemeanors. This means that while there will be some consequences, it is considered a lesser offense. A misdemeanor for driving while under the influence can lead to up to six months in jail, but if a judge orders probation, then “jail” may not be required (“Jail” is used in quotes here, as often a judge orders jail time but allows for alternatives to custody, such as electronic monitoring or Sheriff-directed community service). Probation is a series of conditions that a driver is required to meet, typically in lieu of jail time. The minimum probation period for first time offenders is three years. During probation, you will be prohibited from participating in unlawful activities, and you may be required to complete requirements set by the judge, such as paying fees or completing an educational DUI program; it also requires that one not drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. 

After a DUI, your license will likely be suspended for a minimum of six months, depending on the offense. Under a law that went into effect in January of 2019, you may be eligible to drive while using an ignition interlock device (IID). You may be able to apply for a restricted license for mandatory travel, such as to work or school. It is likely that your insurance premiums will go up for being a higher risk driver.  

A second time DUI will likely be considered a misdemeanor as well. However, the required jail time, if ordered, is longer, and a two-year suspension of your license will be in place. Again, under the 2019 law, you may be eligible for a restricted license immediately. A first or second DUI charge may result in much more serious charges if someone died or was injured as a result of driving while intoxicated. This could result in felony DUI charges, which would likely require prison time if convicted. 

These potential consequences are only a partial list. Other consequences – vocational, travel, and professional licenses, to name just a few – may apply to you.

Contact a Santa Cruz, CA Drunk Driving Attorney

A DUI conviction can seriously impact your life in a large number of ways. An experienced Santa Cruz DUI lawyer will help explain your rights and work with you to determine the best defense strategy to lessen or eliminate the charges you face. Call our office at 831-426-5800 for a free consultation. 


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