First Offense DUI In California – [The 8 Stages of Your DUI Journey]

Getting arrested on a 1st DUI is a daunting experience. The emotions are overwhelming. It’s important you know the stages of your 1st DUI. Knowing the stages of your case and having an idea of what is going to happen next is calming. There are at least 9 stages to your 1st DUI.

1st stage Investigation

You were pulled over for some reason. Nobody goes out thinking they are going to get their 1st DUI tonight.  The reason you were pulled over does not even have to be DUI related. Perhaps you were in an accident or perhaps your headlights were out. The officer will usually say that they observed that you had signs of being drunk such as alcoholic breath or red face. And most likely make you perform some field sobriety tests or on spot breathe test.

2nd stage Arrest

You are then taken to a hospital, jail, or police station for a formal blood or breath test for your 1st DUI. If the breathe test says your blood alcohol concentration ,BAC, was over 0.08% you will get charged with driving with excessive BAC. If the test was low then the officer may require you to have a urine or blood test. Your license will be suspended and will give you a temporary license till the suspension starts in 30 days. The officer then sends the report to the prosecutor and can either decline to file or charge you with your 1st DUI.

3rd stage – Figuring out if you want a Lawyer

You can choose to represent yourself on a 1st DUI, get a public defender, or a private attorney. Unless you know a lot about DUI representing yourself is a bad idea. There is a trained prosecutor out to make a case against you. If you chose to hire a DUI Attorney for your services then you will want to ask about the fee structure of your representation. The last thing you want is to be caught by hidden costs. The fee structures for DUI Attorneys will include whether or not your representation will DMV, trial or post-conviction services and whether or not you want to use an expert for your case.  

4th stage – DMV

shows the pink temporary license given to people who are arrested for a First Offense DUI In California

DUI and DMV and complicated especially for a person who is facing their 1st DUI. After the arrest, you must request a hearing within 10 days of the arrest. You or your private attorney can speak to them either in person or on the phone. They will inquire if the officer had reasonable to pull you over, had probably cause to pull you over, and if the BAC was 0.008 or above. More information about preparing for a DMV Hearing and what to do can be found here.  


5th stage – Figuring out how to handle your Criminal court

You need to figure out how to handle your 1st DUI which  schedule on the court date. If you plan on going then you have to set aside 4 hours to be there in the morning. If this is a second DUI and you have no bailed out yet, then you will want to talk with a bail bondsman.

Will I Have to Go to Court for My DUI?

For a 1st DUI  the answer you want to hear is no. The short answer is Yes. The chances are very real that you will be held to answer for your Los Angeles DUI or a DUI in any county. When you were picked up for your California First Offense DUI, you were probably given a yellow slip of paper. This yellow piece of paper is what you would call a promise to appear. It is your promise to the officer that you will make the court date.  It’s this paper that bounds you to the court.

However, a number of things may happen when you show up to court for your 1st DUI.  The first one is that you will see your name on calendar.  If this happens than that means your case is on calendar.  It is at this moment where you can enter a not guilty plea or a guilty plea. However there is another option as well. You can ask the judge for more time to get yourself an attorney.  You can get about two weeks if you do this.


6th stage – Arraignment

What happens at the first court date?

The first court date in your 1st DUI is called an arraignment. An arraignment is your chance to assert your innocence. It is your first chance to look at the police reports and get discovery from the district attorney or prosecuting agency. It is not the place to talk about your case. The proper place to talk about your case is the pretrial stage.

What happens if I do not appear for my arraignment on my 1st DUI?

If you decide to not appear on your arraignment on your 1st DUI then a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Shows a picture of an Orange County Arrest Warrant that is mailed out

The warrants will probably be around $10,000 or $25,000 even on a 1st DUI. You will then need to post bond or recall the warrant yourself or hire an attorney to recall the warrant for you. If you post bail then you have to put down 10% of the bail amount. If your bail was $25,000 then you must put down $2500.

7th stage Pre-Trial Motion and Negotiations

Your lawyer or yourself will negotiate your 1st DUI case. There are a number of things that come in play with your case. Such things include witness availability, reliability of the prosecutors evidence against you and the skill and temperament of the prosecutor. In many cases we have been succesfful in getting the prosecutor to dismiss the DUI and our clients a Wet Reckless Plea

8th and 9th stage Trial and conclusion

Shows a jury verdict form of a ecent Orange County DUI Attorney

To be convicted of a DUI the prosecutor has to make all 12 jury members believe you were guilty and then after if you plead guilty or were charged by the jury, the punishment then sets in. If not then your case will be dismissed or result in a not guilty. In some cases our clients iwll have to move out of state after the California DUI. If this happens then they may need to transfer their class out of state and there are things to avoid. 

Download Your DUI Checklist 

Down our free DUI Checklist. 



Shows different stages of a DUI process

A DUI can be divded into 8 stages.