What Are Your Choices? What To Do After Getting Your First DUI

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Aug 24, 2021 | DUI

Being arrested for your first DUI can be a very stressful experience. However, it’s important to understand your options in these circumstances. Making the right choices now could help you avoid significant penalties in the future. The following overview will familiarize you with the penalties you might face for a DUI conviction, as well as why you should strongly consider reaching out to an attorney sooner rather than later.

Potential Consequences of Your First DUI

The consequences you may face if you do end up being convicted of a DUI in Los Angeles, California can vary depending on a range of factors.

There are two reasons you may be arrested for a DUI in California:

  • You were driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of greater than 0.08%
  • You were driving “under the influence” of alcohol or a similar intoxicating substance

That second point is important. The phrasing of the law in California is vague. Determining whether you were under the influence of alcohol can be a subjective matter.

Regardless, if you’re convicted of a DUI, the penalties for a first-offense could include the following:

Temporary License Suspension

This is actually a DUI penalty you could incur in California even before being convicted. When you’re first arrested for a DUI, typically, the law enforcement agency arresting you must confiscate your license. They will issue an “Order of Suspension or Revocation” along with a temporary license that remains valid for 30 days.

Under California law, you will face this penalty if you’re arrested for a DUI and you:

  • Have a BAC of 0.04% when driving a commercial vehicle
  • Have a BAC of 0.08% or more when driving a noncommercial vehicle
  • Refuse to take a blood or breath test
  • Have a 0.01% or greater BAC while on DUI probation

Naturally, you will not have been on DUI probation if this is your first DUI arrest. When your temporary license expires, you likely won’t have driving privileges for 30 days. You may be eligible for a restricted license after the 30-day period expires.


A common penalty for a first-time DUI conviction in California is a fine. This may be combined with other penalties. Fines can range from $390 to $1,000.

Jail Time

It is technically possible a judge will order you to serve two days to six months in jail if you’re convicted of a DUI. However, jail time is not required if you are instead placed on probation.


No one can guarantee you will be placed on probation and thus not have to spend any time in jail for a first-time DUI conviction. That said, probation tends to be the more common penalty. Probation can last from three to five years.

While on probation, you:

  • May not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system
  • Must submit to roadside alcohol testing if requested to do so by a police officer
  • Must refrain from any other violations of the law

Those are the basic conditions of probation. A judge may add additional conditions, such as requiring you to attend victim impact support group meetings. They can also suspend your license for a period.

Your Options After a First DUI in California

Again, you can get a restricted license if your license is suspended, and you can eventually get your license back. You should also know that there are many ways to fight a DUI charge.

For example, many people don’t know that devices used to determine someone’s BAC can be inaccurate surprisingly often. Some people charged with DUIs avoid convictions because it’s shown that the method used to test their BAC can’t be trusted.

Additionally, an officer needs to have had a genuine reason for pulling you over. If they didn’t, you can potentially avoid being convicted of a DUI.

Those are merely a couple of examples of ways you may fight a DUI charge. Once more, you need to understand that it’s impossible to honestly promise any particular outcome in your case. That said, your outcome is more likely to be as ideal as possible if you have an attorney on your side. If you are convicted, a lawyer can also help you avoid future legal trouble by clearly explaining the terms of your probation.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.