Penalties for a DUI can be severe. The California Vehicle Code provides for two separate crimes in most drunk driving arrests: driving under the influence of alcohol, “DUI” (VC 23152(a)), and driving with a .08% blood-alcohol level (VC 23152(b)). Although it is possible to be found guilty of both charges, in most cases you can only be sentenced on one because the criminal penalties for the most part are identical. If you refusal to be tested for blood alcohol, the only crime charged will be DUI, VC 23152(a).

If you are convicted for a 1st time DUI or Driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater, the penalty starts with the possibility of a jail sentence for as much as six months. You will be ordered to pay a fine of roughly $1600, representing the statutory amount plus a “tax” called a “Penalty Assessment.” The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your driver’s license for four (4) to ten (10) months. In addition, the court may also require a separate 6 month suspension. The Court will also require you to attend a state-approved DUI school for three to nine months. In addition, the DMV will also require attendance at a DUI school in order to allow a reinstatement of your driver’s license; Usually this is a three month class, but it may be increased to six or nine months in the event depending on your blood alcohol level. Other possible penalties include installation of an “ignition interlock device”(IID) on all cars you own or have access to, work program, community service or attendance at a “MADD victim’s panel” or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Finally, you will likely be placed on probation for a period of three (3) to five (5) years.

Certain factors may be used by the court to increase the punishment. These factors are referred to as “enhancements.” If any of the following circumstances are present in a DUI case, penalties may be substantially increased:

  • Prior DUI or Wet Reckless w/in the last ten (10) years.
  • Excessively high blood alcohol content – Penalties are increased if the blood-alcohol concentration exceeds 0.15%.
  • Child endangerment – There is mandatory jail time if there was a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 14.
  • Excessive speeding or reckless driving – If the driver exceeded the speed limit by 20 mph on a surface street or 30 mph on a highway with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, penalties are increased.
  • Refusal to submit to chemical test – May result in an increased jail term.
  • Injury or accident – Property damage or injury resulting from the offense can result in felony charges and much more severe penalties.

An Orange County DUI conviction is often accompanied by many hidden costs, monetary and otherwise. According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, the total cost of a first offense DUI conviction is over $12,000. In addition to the possible jail time, fines, probation period and, driver license suspension, there are also serious personal, professional, and social repercussions that also flow from a California DUI conviction.

If you or a loved one is facing an Orange County DUI charges, it is important to ensure your legal rights and interests are protected every step of the way. Please contact the Law Offices of Garcia and Phan today for a FREE consultation at


“…Because the Best Defense is a Good Offense.”


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