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I Got a DUI in California: Now What?

woman inside her car failing a breathilizer test and getting a DUI in california

Getting charged with a DUI in California is frightening. You may be worried about the penalties and the financial impact, especially when it comes to car insurance. Find out what happens when you get a DUI for the first time in California. Knowing what to expect will alleviate some of the anxiety.

Consequences of a DUI in California 

If you’re convicted of a first-offense DUI in California, you will face 48 hours to six months in jail. Fines range from $390 to $1,000, and your license could get suspended for four months. Let’s take a closer look at DUI consequences – and some of the DUI solutions – in California.

Going to Jail after a DUI in California

The idea of going to jail is terrifying. If you got arrested for DUI in California, you’ve likely already spent at least one night there – and that was enough! Fortunately, you’re likely to get probation as a first-time offender, meaning you won’t have to go to jail. The probation will likely last for 36 months and will include conditions that you must follow. These might consist of attending DUI school or substance abuse treatment. You will also need to avoid drugs and alcohol during probation. 

License Suspension in California 

If you get a DUI in California, the DMV will suspend your license 30 days after the arrest. You can challenge the suspension if you wish, and you must do that within ten days. Also, you might be eligible to get a restricted license if you install an interlock ignition device. This device prevents you from driving while intoxicated. You will have to pay for the cost and the installation if you go this route. Even with the device, you can only drive to and from work or school. 

You’re not eligible to get a restricted license if you refused a chemical test, are under the age of 21 or are already on DUI probation. 

Reinstating Your California License

Once your suspension is up, you can have your license reinstated. You must pay the DMV a $125 fine and have an insurance company file proof that you have at least the basic required car insurance. This refers to an SR-22 certificate that proves you have car insurance. 

If you do not have a car any longer, you’ll still need to file proof of insurance in the form of non-owner SR-22 insurance.

Young woman blows into a breathalyzer with a police man

Is a DUI a Felony in California?

Most first-time DUI convictions in California are considered a misdemeanor. However, if there are circumstances surrounding your California DUI, such as an accident, injuries or even death, you will most likely be facing much more serious charges that may reach the level of a felony.

Repeat DUI convictions will almost certainly be considered a felony.

What Does a California DUI Cost?

Most estimates put the total for a California DUI somewhere around $25,000. When you examine the “real” financial cost of a DUI, you must take into account:

  • Car towing and storage ($200 to $500)
  • Fines and fees associated with court ($2,000 to $5,000)
  • Attorney’s fees ($2,500)
  • Possible rehab or other court-ordered courses ($500 to $1,000)
  • Car insurance increase ($3,000 to $5,000 annually)
  • Loss of income: You will be without a driver’s license for a while. Will this affect your ability to earn a living? How much will that cost? Add it on!

What’s harder to put a number on is the loss of relationships and status you once had, prior to a DUI conviction. Most people will be sympathetic, especially if you are young and this is your first serious mistake behind the wheel. Other people can only think about what might have happened if you had met up with their loved one while you were driving drunk.

You’ll be left feeling ashamed and guilty. And, if you did injure or kill someone, that guilt may become crippling.

How Long Will a DUI in California Stay on Your Driving Record?

A DUI in California stays on your driving record for ten years from the date of the arrest. At the end of that period, if you have continued to follow your court-ordered rules and have not gotten into any more trouble, the DUI will go away. Since insurance companies typically go back three to five years when deciding on your insurance rates and your SR-22 should end after three years, you may be able to find cheap car insurance in California then.

Getting Back on the Road after a DUI in California

Facing a DUI in California is stressful, but it won’t be long before you’re back on the road. However, because of the DUI conviction, some car insurance companies might charge you lots of money for a basic policy. Instead of buying the first policy you see, contact a licensed insurance agent, so you can compare car insurance quotes. When you compare plans, you can find something affordable, even though you have a DUI conviction on your record. Then, you can begin putting your life back together.

Find Affordable DUI Insurance in California Today

Get the support you need after a DUI conviction with Freeway Insurance. Start your free car insurance quote online, over the phone at 800-777-5620, or at one of our California offices near you. We can help when no one else will. Don’t wait any longer.  

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