Can the attorney make the DUI just go away? No, these cases rarely get dismissed. Also, few DUIs are worth taking to trial. I know because I have tried a variety of DUI cases in this county, everything from regular alcohol DUI cases to Double Murder DUI. So, that means one usually should consider case settlement, taking a deal, accepting a plea bargain.
Here is what commonly happens on a first time DUI in San Jose.
First of all, when you start your DUI case, you usually start with two DUI charges: VC §23152 (b) (Misdemeanor DUI) & VC §23152 (a) (Misdemeanor DUI)
That usually does not mean you will be convicted of both. What typically happens is that you wind up pleading guilty or “no contest” to one of the charges and the other one gets dismissed. In criminal court, a plea of “no contest” has the same effect as a guilty plea—however there may be some advantage to a contest plea. That is why attorneys often prefer a “no contest” plea.
Most attorneys will tell you that it is better to have a VC §23152 (b) on your record than VC §23152 (a) because the VC §23152 (b) is only for alcohol DUIs. A VC §23152 (a) can be for drug DUIs, drugs (like LSD, for example). Although alcohol is a drug, it has less stigma than common “street drugs.”
It is not common to get real jail time for a first time DUI. Usually, you can serve the jail sentence on the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Work Program. It is not unusual to get 12 days or something like that for a sentence on a regular, garden variety DUI. If there is an accident (with only property damage) or the blood alcohol level is high (over .15) then the court will add some days to the sentence, but it would still usually be on the work program.
You have to pay to participate in the work program. But the cost is cheap compared to serving the sentence in a real jail.
Here is a link to a Sheriff webpage that explains the rules of the work program.
You will be given 50% off your sentence for good behavior credit. So that means a 12 day sentence usually winds up being an actual six days. Sometimes your good behavior credit is not exactly 50% though, it depends on the sentence.
DUI Fines & Fees
- You will usually get a fine of about $2,000. The court will allow you to pay it in payments. Payments of $100 a month, for example, are commonly ordered.
- Here is a link to a Santa Clara Court webpage concerning fines.
- For instructions on how to make the payment, the court will give you a two-sided sheet entitled “information Sheet Regarding Your Court Order.”
- You will be on Court Probation (meaning informal probation without a Probation Officer) for usually 3 years from the sentencing date.
- What do you have to do to successfully complete probation? Do everything required in this case, pay fines, do the DUI classes, do the sheriff work program and avoid any new law violations other than minor traffic infractions.
There are two kinds of license suspensions that will happen and it can get complicated. Consulting with experienced attorney about your particular situation can be helpful on this point. But to put it simply, the court will suspend your license and the DMV will suspend your license. Often, you can get a restricted license after a thirty day “hard” suspension, but again this can get complicated so consulting with an attorney about your situation can be beneficial. Whatever you do, make sure not to drive during this “hard” suspension because if you are caught, that will get you another misdemeanor, driving on a suspended license.
If you do not hire an attorney to explain your particular situation to you, make sure to call the The DMV Mandatory Actions Unit at 916-657-6525 to find out what you have to do to get your restricted license and a regular license. If you do call the DMV Mandatory Actions Unit, be ready to be put on hold for a long time and sometimes they will not accept your call because they are too busy at that time. Here is a link to a DMV webpage concerning license suspension and other general information.
DUI Classes / DUI Program
- First Offender Drinking Driver Program. The length of the program depends on how high your blood alcohol level was. A regular DUI usually gets a 3 month program. A DUI with a high blood alcohol (.20 or higher) level usually gets a 9 month program. Here is a link to the statute.
- Here is a link to a Santa Clara County Court webpage that has detailed information on DUI Classes.
- Here is a link to list of DUI classes offered in Santa Clara County.