Whether you had one too many beers at a graduation party or had a mimosa at brunch, you got pulled over and now you have been charged with driving under the influence.
Although you may be worried about costly penalties and overwhelmed by involvement with the court system, taking these four steps after your arrest can help you get through this difficult time.
- Understand the penalties
A first-time DUI offense is a misdemeanor in California. If you are convicted, your license will be suspended for four months and you may be required to use an ignition interlock device when your license is reinstated at a personal cost of up to $150 for installation and up to $80 a month for maintenance. Fines for a first-time DUI range from $390 to $1,000. You must also complete an educational DUI program at a cost of up to $1,200.
- Request a DMV hearing
You have 10 calendar days from a DUI arrest to contest your license suspension. If you do not take this step, your license will be suspended in 30 days after you receive the initial Order of Revocation/Suspension. You can choose to hire a DUI attorney to represent you in the hearing with the DMV.
- Enroll in a DUI education program
You must complete a DUI education program to get your California driver’s license back. The program lasts for three to nine months depending on the details of your charges and other factors.
- Apply for a restricted license
After 30 days of license suspension, you may be eligible for a restricted license. This document allows you to drive to work and school during your suspension period. However, your vehicle must be outfitted with an ignition interlock device for one year. This device requires you to provide a breath sample before your car’s engine will start.
Keep in mind that California is an implied consent state. If law enforcement pulls you over and you refuse a breath test, your license can be suspended for up to six months even if a judge finds you not guilty of DUI.