First DUI in San Luis Obispo- What to Expect From Your First Offense

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What to expect If you are convicted for your First DUI in San Luis Obispo

*IMPORTANT: Before you read on, it is important that you understand that the information below, is what you can expect if you are CONVICTED of a DUI. Simply being arrested, does not mean you will be convicted. That is one reason it is so important to hire an experienced SLO DUI attorney. If there is a way to beat your case, they will know how to do it.*

Most of our clients who hire us for a DUI are facing their first DUI offense. If this is your situation, this page may help you understand what you can reasonably expect, if you are actually convicted.

There are 6 different types of punishments that usually result from a first DUI in San Luis Obispo. These include:
1. Jail.(or a jail alternative such a SLO County Sheriff’s Work Project or Wearing an electronic GPS ankle monitor).
2. Probation.
3. Alcohol Classes. These are state approved alcohol classes not AA, or some other form of private rehab
4. Fines. Usually over $2,000 worth of fines. Although your attorney can arrange payments (this need not be paid all at once, and this is the part that seems to create the least problem for clients).
5. Court Mandated License Suspension. This is different /separate from the suspension of your license that may be imposed by the DMV.
6. The Resulting Criminal Record.

I will discuss each of these below in more detail:

1. Jail

This is the punishment that sends shivers down ever one’s spine, but take comfort. There is hope. First, the majority of our first time offender clients never go back to jail. Those who are required to serve some amount of jail serve it through alternative sentencing (work project or GPS ankle monitor). The amount of jail required often depends on various factors such as the blood alcohol level, the driving pattern, whether there was an accident, whether you refused the chemical test etc. But on a first DUI in SLO jail sentences range on average from 2 to 10 days.  But this one of the main reasons to hire an attorney. An attorney can often negotiate down your jail time. For example, even if your attorney can only shave a couple days jail off of your sentence, this is a BIG DEAL. That is two less days picking up trash on the side of the freeway! And it is common to negotiate jail terms down by more than two days. Reductions of jail time by more than two days through negotiations happens regularly.  So, in addition to all of the other reasons to hire an attorney for a first DUI offense in SLO, this one is reason enough to do it.  Do not hesitate.

2. Probation

The vast majority of first DUI offenses in San Luis Obispo result in informal probation ranging from 3 to 5 years with 3 years being more common. You can settle a DUI with no probation, but it will usually require jail time. And most people would prefer probation over jail, but now always. In some circumstances, probation is a deal breaker for people. If this is the case for you, know that you have options. Probation is a mechanism that allows the courts to punish people less harshly, in exchange for a guarantee of better behavior in the future. Most people would be more appreciative of probation, if they realized it saved them from jail time.

3. Alcohol Classes

One of the punishments associated with a first DUI are State Approved Alcohol Classes. This requirement is not satisfied by attending AA, and this is not satisfied by attending a private rehab facility. These are classes which are approved by the state and which will satisfy BOTH the requirement of the DMV and the court. Depending on your alcohol level the court will require a first time DUI offender to attend either a standard 3 month alcohol program or an extended 9 month alcohol program. This is another area in which hiring an attorney can really pay off, as in many instances, where our client has a high Blood alcohol concentration, but not extremely high, we may be able to negotiate with the DA to get a 3 month class and avoid the 9 month class. This avoids six months of classes and saves hundreds of dollars. This one benefit justifies having an attorney.

Here is the link to the list of alcohol class providers: DUI Class Directory

In the event that your license gets suspended, a restricted license will allow you to drive to and from these state approved alcohol classes. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to guide you through this process. If you are charged with a DUI, It makes sense to hire an attorney, not just to fight for you in court, but also to guide you through the maze of requirements that are imposed on you by both the DMV and the court.

4. Fines

If you are convicted for a first DUI in SLO you will likely end up paying over #2,000 in fines and fees, but, these will not be required up front. Most of our clients request payment plans that allow them to pay as little as $50 per month. So, do not panic at the fines, as the payments can be reduced low enough that they don’t cause a major disruption to your life. Likewise, if an attorney negotiates your case down to a lesser charge, this may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. My advice is to hire a good attorney (we are the best in town) and let them go to work. In my experience, good things happen when you fight your case. A good attorney maybe able to negotiate for a charge with less fines.

5. License Suspension

There are two ways you can lose your license in a first DUI. The first is through a DMV suspension. If you are arrested with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08, then the police will take your drivers license, and provide you with a pink temporary license. This means the DMV is moving ahead to automatically suspend your license. An experienced DUI attorney can help you avoid an automatic suspension by the DMV and represent you at your DMV hearing in an attempt to avoid any suspension by the DMV. Please note that a public defender cannot represent you with the DMV, so if driving is important to you, you should forget about using a public defender and call us.

In addition to a possible license suspension by the DMV, the court will also suspend your drivers license if you are convicted of a DUI. That means that even if you win your DMV hearing, but get convicted of DUI, you will face a license suspension. In order to avoid any license suspension following a 0.08 or higher BAC arrest, your attorney will need to both win the DMV hearing, AND avoid a DUI conviction in court (a wet reckless will do the trick). So be aware that your license is in jeopardy following a DUI arrest, and find a great San Luis Obispo DUI lawyer.

6. The Criminal Record

One of the least discussed consequences of a DUI conviction is the impact to your “record.” A DUI conviction can cost many people there jobs and state or federal licenses. Again, this is why it is important to hire an attorney, even on your first DUI. In many instances, a DUI attorney can reduce your charges to a lesser offense, like reckless driving. This can have many benefits, but the benefit to your record is an important consideration.

Even if you are convicted of DUI, all hope is not lost. Once your probation is over, you can have your attorney petition the court for a retroactive dismissal under penal code section 1203.4 ( this is often referred to as an expungement). If this petition is granted (we have a very high success rate), then your conviction is set aside and a dismissal takes its place, thereby cleaning your criminal record.

Facing a DUI in San Luis Obispo? Call us Today for a Free Consultation by Phone or in-person (805) 621-7181.

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