The most common question I get when someone is arrested for DUI is, “What’s going to happen to me?”

In this blog post, I’m going to explain the general consequences of a first time DUI in San Diego county.

The penalties of a first time DUI include a maximum punishment of 6 months in county jail.  However, assuming the person has no criminal record and there are no aggravating factors involved in the case (child in the car, reckless driving, or refusal to take a chemical test), the court will usually give a person probation in lieu of jail.

Probation is a contract with the court.  Basically, the court promises not to impose jail, and the defendant promises to abide by reasonable conditions.  Typical conditions of probation for a first-time DUI are as follows.

  • 5 year term of summary probation.
    “Summary probation” means no probation officer or supervision.
  • Pay a fine of approximately $2200.
    Fine amounts change on a weekly basis, but this is a good estimate of the current fine amount.
  • Complete the First Conviction Program (3 or 9 month program).
    This is an alcohol education program that every DUI probationer must take.  It will also satisfy the DMV requirements associated with getting your license back.
  • Attend the MADD Impact Panel.
    This is a one night program where DUI probationers listen to victims of DUI (or their families) talk about their experiences.
  • Complete Public Work Service (only if high BAC–blood alcohol content).
    This is a program run by the county probation department where probationers perform manual labor as punishment.  The most common labor performed is picking up trash on the highway while wearing an orange jumpsuit.
  • Installing an Interlock Ignition Device, aka “IID” (if high BAC).
    This is a device that’s put in the DUI probationer’s car that prevents them from starting the car unless they provide a clean breath sample.
  • Abide by the standard alcohol conditions.
    Everyone on DUI probation must abide by these standard conditions. 

    • DUI probationers can’t drive with any alcohol in their blood (not even .01 BAC)
    • DUI probationers must submit to a chemical test (with or without cause) if requested by a police officer.  This means that if a police officer pulls you over, they can make you take a breath test even if they don’t suspect DUI.
    • DUI probationers cannot drive without a valid license.
    • DUI probationers cannot drive without valid insurance.

Short Term vs. Long Term Punishments

These punishments are all short-term punishments.  The long-term punishment is having a DUI on your record which could come up in future background checks.  This could have a very profound impact on you in the future. For example, it could be used to deny employment or the issuance of a professional license.

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