Santa Barbara DUI Attorney Explains DUI First Offense and Misdemeanor DUI

DUI is considered a serious offense and carries penalties for 1st offense DUI California cases. Because of the potential for causing injuries and fatalities to other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, DUI is an offense that can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the number of convictions an offender has within a certain time period. Knowing the definition of DUI, how DUI is determined, and how it is prosecuted can help drivers avoid the penalties associated with a 1st or subsequent offense.


In most misdemeanor DUI cases involving alcohol, there are two charges of DUI, which differ in substance and differ in what must be proved.


DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. Motorists may be driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both substances. There are two parts to a 1st offense DUI California case. One takes into account the level of impairment of the defendant. This level can be determined when law enforcement officers are talking to the individual or when field sobriety tests are performed. Officers will often make notes about slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the odor of the driver, and how the driver is acting. Sobriety tests are performed to determine if a driver is impaired. When these tests are administered, officers look for stumbling, falling, tripping, and other signs that a driver may have been drinking. The other component of a 1st offense DUI California case is blood alcohol level. This level is determined with chemical testing of a suspect’s blood, or breath. In California, the presumptive legal limit for blood alcohol level is 0.08%. If this limit is met or exceeded, a driver is presumed to be under the influence, even if they do not show any physical signs of impairment.


The first charge generally is §23152 (a) of the California Vehicle Code, which states it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. The proof required is that you drove a vehicle; and when you drove, you were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. You are deemed under the influence if, as a result of consuming an alcoholic beverage  your mental or physical abilities are so impaired that you were no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. The law further provides the manner in which you drive is not enough by itself to establish whether you are or not under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. However, it is a factor to be considered by a jury, in light of all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether you were under the influence. This first charge also includes that if it is proved your blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more at the time of the chemical analysis, it may concluded that you were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage at the time of the alleged offense.

0.08 % OR MORE

The second charge generally is §23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code, which states it is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. Additionally it is presumed that if you had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in your blood at the time of driving the vehicle, or if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving. It must be proved you drove a vehicle; and when you drove, your blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more by weight.

If you are facing either of these misdemeanor DUI California charges, contact a qualified attorney to help you prepare your case and give you the best chance of experiencing success against your DUI allegations.


How a DUI case is prosecuted depends on a number of factors. The age of the person being charged, their blood alcohol level at the time of arrest, any injuries or property damage caused by the defendant, and any prior convictions are considered. DUI is often a misdemeanor charge, but it can be charged as a felony if the defendant has had a number of prior convictions or if serious injuries have been caused. The prosecutor in the case will rely on chemical testing results and statements from law enforcement officers to try to convict those charged with driving under the influence.


If convicted of driving under the influence, two sets of penalties are imposed. The first penalty is administrative in nature and is imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. For a 1st offense DUI California arrest (not conviction), the penalty is a four-month license suspension period as a result of the arrest, also known as an administrative per se action. If there is refused chemical testing, the penalty is a one-year license suspension, even if they are not convicted in a criminal trial at a later date. The administrative penalties increase with each subsequent driving under the influence offense. Upon a conviction of DUI, a second administrative license suspension action ensues, generally for six months.


There are a number of criminal penalties that can be imposed for a 1st DUI offense in the state of California. The courts consider a number of factors when imposing these penalties on offenders. If the convicted offender’s blood alcohol level was extremely high, or if injuries or property damage occurred, the sentence may be harsher. Jail time of 96 hours to 6 months can be imposed, along with fines up to $1,000 and the six-month license suspension. Offenders are also expected to attend alcohol education classes.


Some offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle they own or operate. An ignition interlock device is a device that is installed in a vehicle and tests a breath sample of an offender each time they attempt to start the engine. If the offender has any alcohol in his or her breath, the vehicle will fail to start and they will be unable to drive. These devices have both proponents and critics. Those who support ignition interlock devices think they cut down on driving under the influence. Critics of the devices believe they do not work because offenders could easily ask a friend or relative to breathe into the device if they have been drinking. The device would read that breath sample and allow the vehicle to be started even if the offender had been drinking. This can allow repeat offenders to get away with driving under the influence even though ignition interlock devices are supposed to prevent it from happening.

If you are facing a 1st offense DUI California charge, contact a qualified DUI attorney to help you prepare your case and give you the best chance of experiencing success against your DUI allegation.


If you are facing a DUI, you should find a DUI lawyer, the best DUI lawyer.

Kenneth M. Hallum is a Santa Barbara attorney handling DUI cases exclusively and can answer your drunk driving questions, questions about the DUI arrest report, whether DUI reckless driving is an alternative or option, whether a driver’s license suspension, or a DUI suspension can be avoided, or the specifics of a DUI trial. There are many issues Santa Barbara DUI lawyers must address. Facing a DUI alone is not an option you want to take.  There are serious ramifications to dealing with the legal system that will impact your life if not handled correctly.  It is best to obtain the services of a highly experienced DUI defense attorney to handle the proceedings for you.  Each case is unique with an individual set of facts, mistakes, and legal arguments, and most important each case has a unique individual component – YOU.

When the evidence “seems” overwhelming, that is when you need a DUI attorney dedicated to DUI defense in order to make sure that every possible issue and defense is explored!  Trials can be won, and cases can be dismissed, and Attorney Kenneth M. Hallum is dedicated to that goal.  With an extensive law enforcement background he is a best bet for a strong and aggressive DUI defense lawyer.

Contact  Kenneth M. Hallum, Esq. right away! Know your Rights, Options, and Defenses.

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