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California, like many other states, has taken a hard line against driving under the influence offenses. However, the consequences of a DUI conviction don’t just stop with fines and jail time. Depending on what the court decides, you could find it harder to keep driving, hold a job, or maintain a professional license. That’s just the beginning of the stress you’ll experience, which is why you need an experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney working your case.
First-time offenses are usually charged as misdemeanors under California law. However, if you’re convicted again in 10 years, you can expect a mandatory jail sentence, and a court order to attend an 18-month alcohol education class. A fourth conviction in 10 years results in a prison sentence. DUI collisions that cause serious damage or injury may lead to an enhanced sentence, and a court order to pay restitution to the victims.
Even if you don’t go to jail, a DUI conviction can trigger various administrative sanctions that place you under court supervision for lengthy periods. One is probation, which includes certain mandatory conditions that a DUI defendant must follow, including mandatory alcohol education, and court fines.
The court will automatically suspend your license, a status that will complicate your work life. Your conviction is also reported to the Department of Justice, resulting in a criminal record that will follow you around if you’re seeking another job, or trying an apartment.
The court may also require that you complete a community service or community labor program, or attend an alternative program, like a MADD Victim Impact Panel. Failing to follow any of these conditions results in additional consequences, like jail time.
Driver’s License Consequences
California law requires the automatic suspension of a license for anyone arrested on suspicion of driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or greater. This standard applies, whether a criminal case is filed in court or not.
The Department of Motor Vehicles will notify you of your suspension within 30 days of your arrest. You must do challenge it within 10 days of the arrest date. You can then seek a hearing with a DMV officer, and try to convince him that the suspension is unwarranted.
Even then, the court will also order the installation of an ignition interlock device, which requires you to prove your sobriety before the car will start.
First-time DUI offenders lose their license for four months, but may be eligible for a restricted one. However, that option isn’t available if you refuse a chemical test, or happen to under 21. In those cases, your license gets suspended for a year.
Conviction of a DUI can spill over negatively into other areas of your life that may not cross your mind after dealing with the stress of a traffic stop, and the resulting arrest. For example, many employers and landlords now run criminal background checks, so finding a new job or housing can become problematic.
Expect additional problems if your job requires licensing or certification. Examples include attorneys, doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Your conviction is reported to the relevant licensing agency, which will then investigate to see whether criminal charges or other disciplinary actions, like a license suspension, will apply.
These scenarios are just one of many reasons why you need a Los Angeles DUI Attorney who understands how the system works, and how you can protect your rights. Whatever happens, don’t discuss any plea offers without proper legal advice, and don’t go it alone.