You’ve done your best to obey the law for as long as you can remember. You try not to speed, you don’t run stop signs, and you don’t cause a ruckus when you go out with friends. Unfortunately, after a fun night out with friends, you judged your ability to drive poorly and got pulled over. After the officer assessed the situation, he or she determined you were driving under the influence and arrested you for a DUI.

Now what? Even though this is only your first DUI offense, it’s still a serious situation.

DMV Penalties versus Court-Imposed Penalties

The DMV will impose penalties that are separate from those the court. Your license will automatically be suspended for 30 days, but it could remain suspended for at least six months, depending on the specifics of your unique case. If your license is revoked beyond the 30-day Order of Suspension and Temporary License period, it won’t be reinstated until you’re able to prove you’ve completed the required DUI education courses.

You have ten days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV hearing. If you don’t request a hearing within that time frame, your license will automatically be revoked or suspended. That ten-day window will go by very quickly, so it’s best to seek the assistance of a DUI attorney right away to ensure your best chances of regaining driving privileges in a shorter amount of time. Even if the DMV won’t grant full driving privileges, a California DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a restricted license on your behalf, so you can still easily get to and from work.

Pre-Trial & Trial of First-Time DUIs in California

You may be able to avoid going to trial, particularly if you’ve hired a DUI attorney to defend your case. During the pre-trial phase, your attorney will examine the evidence to determine if it’s in your best interest to enter into a plea deal, meaning he or she has worked out a better deal with the prosecutor that incurs lesser charges and reduced sentencing without requiring an appearance in court.

If a plea bargain isn’t in your best interest—or if your case does not get dismissed—the next step is a trial. The DUI trial process in California can take time, lasting from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of your case and how full the docket is.

It’s completely normal to be nervous during this time, but your attorney should be taking care of the details and keeping you informed of any updates, which will help reduce your anxiety. At this point, you have four main responsibilities relating to your first-time DUI offense:

  • Answer any questions from your attorney as honestly and completely as possible
  • Appear to court when you’re called
  • Remain calm
  • Drive very carefully if your license is valid

Some people think they can beat a DUI charge all by themselves, but that’s seldom the best option. An experienced DUI attorney will fight for your best possible scenario, often using negotiation tactics and applications of the law you may not have access to. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an attorney who will examine the specifics of your particular case, looking for opportunities to reduce or eliminate your charges all together.

Mark Sollitt, a DUI Specialist in Northern California, has been defending clients for two decades. Call Mr. Sollitt now at (800) 420-5667 if you need to discuss your DUI case with an experience legal professional.