DUI First Offense

DUI First Offense

First Time DUIimage1 (1)

California’s DUI law in general, potential alternative plea-deals, potential defenses, potential additional allegations, under 21 DUI, Commercial Driver DUI, and potential penalties.

California’s DUI law in general

In California a DUI may be charged as a Misdemeanor (VC§23152) or as a Felony (VC§23153).

Misdemeanor VC§23152

California’s Misdemeanor DUI law has 2 parts, a & b.

Vehicle Code 23152(a) makes it unlawful for a driver to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and

Vehicle Code 23152(b) makes it unlawful for an adult non-commercial driver to drive a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration level of .08% or higher.


Alternative Plea-Deal Charges Depending on the facts of your particular case, there may be some plea-deal options that will dispose of the case without rolling the dice of going to trial.

Some of these include (but are not limited to):

  • Wet-Reckless;
  • Dry-Reckless;
  • Unlawful Exhibition of Speed;
  • Publicly Intoxicated / Drunk in Public.

Possible Defenses Again, depending on the facts of your particular case, there may be some DUI defenses that could either get the case dismissed, help secure a not-guilty win at trial, or pressure the prosecutor to agree to a plea-deal.

Just a few defenses include (but are not limited to):

  • Was the person suspected of driving, the actual driver?
  • Although the defendant may have been under the influence, did s/he voluntarily drive the vehicle? (the vehicle must have moved as a result of the defendant’s intent and operation/driving).  
  • Did the officer actually witness the defendant driving?
  • Can it be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually drove the vehicle while under the influence, or was the defendant merely behind the wheel absent enough evidence to support driving? The defendant admitting s/he was intending to drive while s/he was under the influence, is not enough.
  • With regard to section (b) – was the (adult non-commercial) driver’s blood alcohol level at or above .08% ‘at the time of driving’?

Possible DUI Enhancement AllegationsDepending on the facts of your particular case, there may be special allegations the prosecutor may allege above and beyond the base DUI charge. This/these may affect your penalties as well as the length and/or terms of probation.

Some of these may include:

  • Driving with a child in the car / driving with a passenger under the age of 14,
  • Driving with a BAC over .15%,
  • Speeding 20 mph over the speed limit,
  • DUI causing injury,
  • DUI causing a fatality – Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter.

Allegations also have particular elements that must be met.  An experienced DUI Attorney should be able to identify and magnify the weak-points in, and the ramifications of the allegations set-forth in the complaint.


 DUI PenaltiesDepending on the facts of your particular case, below are the listed possible penalties for violation of VC 23152(a),(b), (f), or (g):

  • Probation / Imposition of Sentence is Suspended for either 3yrs or 5yrs (mandatory).
  • Fine – $1,979; 
  • If probation is violated – $150 Probation Revocation Restitution Fine.
  • $154 CJ Admin Fee if was booked.
  • 3 days Public Work Service;
  • Standard Alcohol Conditions (mandatory) [VC23600], including:
    • No driving with any measurable alcohol in blood;
    • If arrested for DUI, cannot refuse to submit to blood/breath/urine chemical test to determine BAC.
    • Violate not laws regarding driving a motor vehicle while under the influence or in possession of alcohol or drugs;
    • No driving without a valid license and proof of insurance.
  • Take a First Conviction Program (“FCP”) (mandatory) [VC23538]
BAC Min. length of program
.19% or below = 3 months
.20% or higher = 9 months
Test refusal = 9 months


Driving privileges will not be restored until proof of completion of FCP is provided to DMV [VC§23538](b)(3)] 

  • Defendant surrenders license to the court (mandatory) [VC§13550 & VC§23538] (DMV suspends license, court mandated to collect it);
  • Must schedule and have meeting with Substance Abuse Assessment Unit (‘SAAU’) within deadline set by court [VC§23646];
  • Vehicle Impound? – Court may order vehicle impounded up to 6-months if owner [VC§23592]
  • Ignition Interlock Device? – Court may require IID for up to 3-yrs [VC§23575(i)]
    • If IID ordered, advisal (mandatory) [MC23575(c)];
    • If BAC .15% or more, or if breath/urine test refusal, shall consider additional or enhanced terms and conditions of probation (mandatory) [VC§23578]; Consider 2D-7D PSP, treatment, and/or 5-yrs Probation;
    • If under 21 = 1-yr License Suspension or delay and surrender license to court (mandatory) [VC§13202.5]
    • If unlawfully under the influence or possession of a controlled substance, 4th Waiver and no drive with any measurable of controlled substance in blood;
    • If collision = 5-yrs Probation + 2D Public Work Service and restitution to victim.

Special Allegations? Conditions are In Addition to other probation terms (mandatory):

  • DUI Child Endangerment [VC§23572] – passenger under 14 = 48hrs continuous custody (mandatory);
  • Refusal of DUI breath or urine test = 48hrs custody (mandatory) [VC§23577];
  • Reckless Driving (30+mph freeway; 20+mph street) = 60days custody and complete alcohol/drug education and counseling program, mandatory [VC§23582], except unusual case where interests of justice served;

IF Probation Denied – Sentencing Requirements if probation denied:

  • Fines and Custody = Total FINE (including fees and assessments) – between $1,850 and $5,350 (plus $154 CJ Admin Fee if booked) AND Custody (at least 96hrs (minimum 48hrs Continuous), not more than 6mo [VC§23536];
  • VC§23593 Advisal;
  • Surrender license to court [VC§13550 & VC§23536]
  • Special Allegations:
    • Child Endangerment – [VC§23572] – Passenger under 14, 48hrs continuous custody;
    • Reckless Driving [VC§23582] – (30+ MPH Freeway / 20+ Street) – 60 days custody.
  • Court may refer to SAAU [VC§23646]
  • Vehicle Impound? – Court may order vehicle impounded not more than 6mo if owner [VC§23592]
  • IID? (Ignition Interlock Device) – if defendant has not applied to DMV for Restricted License (not to exceed 6mo), [VC§23575.3(h)(1)(A)]. If IID Ordered by Court – IID Advisal. 
  • If BAC .15% or higher, OR if Breath or Urine test REFUSAL, Court shall consider enhanced penalties [VC§23578]
  • Under 21? – If under 21, 1yr License Suspension or Delay AND Surrender License to court [VC§13202.5]


An Experienced DUI Defense Firm

The Law Office of James Hassey has extensive experience at not only defending your DUI in the court-system, but also fighting the suspension of your license by the DMV.  If you engage our services to represent you, the first thing we will do is contact the correct DMV office on your behalf and make immediate efforts to schedule your APS Hearing and put a halt to the automatic suspension of your license.  Time is not on your side. Call our office today at (619) 745-5555.