What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in California?

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If you have never faced criminal charges before, you are probably wondering, How likely is jail time for a first-time DUI? 

Worrying about the possible repercussions of a first-time DUI offense is perfectly natural.

Seeking advice from a seasoned, aggressive, and accomplished DUI defense lawyer is the best way to understand the possible penalties you could face for a first-time DUI in California. 

In the San Diego County area, The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, is the firm you can trust to mount a vigorous defense.

Led by our State Bar of California board-certified criminal law specialist, Kerry L. Armstrong, our team remains committed to providing you with superior advocacy and support while we fight your charges.

With the experience of well over 100 jury trials, we understand what it takes to give our clients the best possible outcome for their first-time DUI charge. To get started, contact us today.

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time?

The California criminal justice system is difficult to navigate. Therefore, you need to contact a knowledgeable DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest and before you go to court.

An experienced DUI lawyer can vigorously protect your rights, beginning with your first court appearance.

Your lawyer will receive information from the prosecution about your case through discovery.

Disclosing police reports, accident reports, arrest reports, booking sheets, 911-call information, chemical test results, dash-cam videos, body-cam videos, and the declarations of expert witnesses are all integral to the discovery process.

From that point, you and your attorney can decide how to attack your case. 

We look for ways to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. We might file motions to suppress evidence if the police stopped you illegally.

We might also use our extensive DUI defense experience to discuss the merits of going to trial with you.

You might have what lawyers call a “triable case,” meaning that the prosecution’s case against you is weak.

If the prosecutor has a weak case against you, it raises your chances of winning a not-guilty verdict. Nothing in law is absolute, but your chances of winning can increase substantially under certain circumstances. 

Sometimes the best defense is negotiating a particular disposition that keeps you out of jail. However, many prosecutors are reluctant to reduce DUI charges without a compelling reason, even if it is your first offense.

How Likely Is Jail Time for a First-time DUI?

DUI is a serious offense in California and most states.

According to California Vehicle Code §23536, a person convicted of a first-offense DUI faces a minimum of 96 hours in jail, with 48 hours to be served consecutively.

The maximum jail sentence is six months. The court will also assess a fine between $390 and $1,000 and suspend your driver’s license. 

However, jail time is not mandatory under the statute. Judges have the authority to use their discretion and sentence you to probation instead of jail.

While on probation, you must attend programs like A.A. and MADD’s Victim Impact Program.

The court will order you not to drive with any perceptible alcohol in your system, obey all laws, and pay outstanding fines and fees.

Get in Touch With An Experienced DUI Lawyer in California Today

Contact The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, to mount a vigorous defense against your first-time DUI charges.

Our award-winning California DUI lawyers offer free consultations. Unlike other firms, we provide you and your family with superior advocacy and emotional support. Let us fight for you.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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