A DUI with no priors is considered a California First Offense DUI. For a first time DUI with no priors, the law has certain specific things that must be proven, and certain punishments and requirements if the case is proven.

The law for First DUI cases with no priors:

The law that makes driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, and DUI under the influence of drugs (DUID)  is California Vehicle Code VC 23152, and its subsections.  Those define the type of DUI as follows:

  • VC 23152(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
  •  VC 23152(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
  • VC 23152(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to drugs to drive a vehicle
  •  VC 23152(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
  •  VC 23152(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

The punishment for first offense DUI cases:

The law has a maximum (six months in jail, an alcohol school, and fines and fees that total $5000), and a minimum (three years’ probation, an alcohol school, and base fines of $390).  In Orange County, DUI cases are sometimes reduced to another charge, which would reduce the entire sentencing range below the minimum. For a case that has no priors, you would be looking at the minimum, not the maximum.

However, the prosecutor would add punishment if there were any of the following:

  • a blood alcohol level of at or above a .16%;
  • children in the car;
  • an accident (with or without injury);
  • an allegation that you were speeding while DUI;
  • or any priors.

We can help avoid the more severe punishment for any of the above. The good news is that there is a way to avoid losing your driving privileges, and you probably will not face any jail time for a first time DUI.  

What must be proven for DUI cases with no priors?

The prosecutor must prove, according to the official California jury instructions all of the following, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant drove a vehicle;

AND

  1. When (he or she) drove, the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, or a drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug.

Proving that someone was under the influence can be shown by simply being above a .08, at which level you are presumed impaired.  Or, the prosecutor can show that a person is under the influence if, as a result of drinking or taking a drug, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that they is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

The way that in which a person drives is not enough by itself to establish whether the person is or is not under the influence. But it, it is a factor to be considered, in light of all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether the person was under the influence.

What defenses are there for DUI cases with no priors?

Defenses to a case with no priors for first time offenders would include the following:

  • A lack of probable cause (or a legal reason) for stopping the car;
  • Failure to adhere to proper protocols for arrest, and for testing;
  • Contamination issues in testing;
  • A lack of proof regarding timing of intoxication;
  • A lack of proof regarding who the driver was;
  • A lack of proof regarding impairment, along with other defenses and issues.

How can an attorney help me with a DUI with no priors?

With a lack of any prior charges, you are in a unique position to present character references or other information about you, to mitigate your damage, and have the case reduced or dismissed.  The prosecution fights harder with cases that have a prior DUI or a criminal history, and won’t extend consideration to dismissal or a reduction of the case.  This is where the negotiation skills of a DUI expert or specialist can help you.

This article was written by Orange County DUI Lawyer Robert Miller, at the firm of Miller & Associates, in Orange County, California.  Contact him or the firm with any questions.