First Offense

San Diego First Offense DUI Lawyer

Defending Against First DUI Charges in San Diego, Riverside, & Orange Counties

Being arrested and charged with a DUI can be one of the most intimidating and humiliating events you will experience. In a first-offense DUI, you likely know little about the process, the details of California DUI law, or how to fight back. You may even feel your case is hopeless with all the evidence on the side of law enforcement and the state of California. This can lead to a feeling of having little control over an overwhelming situation. 

Your reaction to a DUI arrest is not uncommon. However, the reality may be much different. As in any other criminal case, law enforcement may act in an overzealous manner. They may mishandle roadside investigations. Their breathalyzers may be inaccurate, poorly calibrated or maintained, thus prone to mistakes. The reason for pulling you over may be questionable. A myriad of factors in your arrest may be suspect and, therefore, contestable.

To uncover all of the facts and circumstances of your DUI, you will need a competent and experienced defense lawyer who knows what to look for in building your case. At The Law Offices of Casey & Angelos, you can work with the premier DUI defender in Southern California, who has earned a reputation for excellence in this complex field of law. 

Arrested for DUI? Get advice and guidance from our San Diego first-offense DUI attorney in a free case evaluation. Call us at (619) 930-5490 to schedule an appointment or contact us online

California DUI Laws and Penalties

California DUI law is laid out in our Vehicle Code 23152(b), which states that it is unlawful for anyone to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 08 percent or higher. This is called a “per se” DUI. 

Many people believe a DUI is just one crime. But in California, the typical arrest involves two DUI charges. This is because the common misconception is that you cannot be charged if your BAC is below .08 percent. However, Vehicle Code 23152(a) allows you to be charged for driving under the influence of alcohol without mention of any BAC.  

To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must prove 1. That you drove a motor vehicle, and 2. You were under the influence of alcohol at the time you drove, as observed by law enforcement. The courts have defined driving as the vehicle moving, no matter how slightly. 

Typically an officer will see the vehicle moving, which will satisfy this element. But courts also allow prosecutors to use circumstantial evidence to prove driving. This can include facts that indicate you were driving, such as the engine being on, seated in the driver’s seat, keys in the ignition, illuminated headlights, etc.

Defining "Under the Influence" in DUI Cases

California courts have held that you are under the influence when your physical and mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you can no longer drive with the caution that a sober person would use under the same or similar circumstances. The prosecutor typically uses any fact showing you were driving poorly, such as swerving, speeding, drifting across lanes, driving too slowly, and more. 

Accuracy of Breath and Blood Tests in DUI Arrests

Vehicle Code section 23152(b) is a per se offense because the law presumes you are under the influence if your BAC was .08% or higher at the time of driving. A prosecutor will use a breath or blood test to prove this. 

Most BAC tests occur 30 minutes or more after you were stopped, so how does the prosecutor prove what your BAC was at the time of driving? The law presumes you had the same BAC at the time of driving if the breath or blood test was completed within three hours of driving. If the test was completed more than three hours after the time of driving, the prosecutor must provide proof of your BAC. 

California DUI also includes driving while under the influence of drugs, which can consist of street drugs, prescription drugs, and even over-the-counter drugs that can impair your judgment, reaction time, and more due to drowsiness or other adverse physical reactions. 



Since the establishment of this law firm in 1998, we have strived to provide our clients with the highest quality representation and a level of customer service that is unparalleled by any firm anywhere.
  • Super Lawyers
  • The National College for DUI Defense
  • California DUI Lawyers Association
  • Avvo Rating 10
  • Best of the Bar
  • National Trial Lawyers
  • Trial Skills University
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Award

California DUI Penalties

Most first-offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. 

Typical penalties for first-offense convictions include:

  • Up to a year in county jail;
  • Informal probation for three to five years;
  • Fines and assessments of $1600-$2300;
  • A three- to nine-month DUI Program;
  • A six-month to one-year license suspension;
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for up to three years; and
  • Insurance repercussions.

In some cases, you may be eligible for a restricted license or be allowed to drive immediately with an IID installed in your vehicle. 

The court may also require additional penalties if there are any aggravating factors, such as an accident, high blood alcohol level, high speed, or a child in the vehicle.

California DMV License Suspension Hearing

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) license suspension hearing is an administrative procedure separate from the criminal proceedings related to a DUI charge. This hearing is often called the admin per se (APS) hearing. It provides you the opportunity to challenge the automatic suspension of your license. 

You must request this hearing within 10 days after your arrest. If you fail to do so, your license will automatically be suspended. 

Our San Diego attorney can be invaluable in this process. Mr. Casey can help you navigate the complexities of the DMV hearing process, protect your rights, and work towards the best possible outcome.

He can help by: 

  • Ensuring the hearing request is submitted correctly and on time.
  • Preparing a solid defense for the hearing, including challenging the BAC test's accuracy, the traffic stop's lawfulness, and the procedures followed during your arrest.
  • Representing you at the hearing, questioning witnesses, presenting evidence, and making legal arguments.

Fight for the Best Possible Result with Help from The Law Offices of Casey & Angelos

You need the strongest available defense with so much on the line in any DUI charge. Our firm is known for its professional excellence in California DUI. Put 25+ years of exclusive practice in this field on your side.

We are available to take your calls 24/7. Connect with us at (619) 930-5490 today. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We are here to help. Still have questions or can't find the answer you need? Give us a call at 619-930-5490 today!

  • I was not drunk. Can I be charged with DUI for smoking marijuana or taking prescription medications?
    If you were arrested for DUI but didn’t have alcohol in your system, you can still be charged with DUI. There are a number different charges associated with misdemeanor and felony DUI. You can be charged with an (f) count if you consumed any intoxicating drugs, regardless of whether they are illegal or prescription. But, if you were under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, then you can be charged with an (e) count for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
  • Aren’t the police supposed to read me my Miranda rights?
    It seems like common sense that an officer must read you your Miranda rights. Although this is true in a situation where you are being interrogated, for purposes of DUI, you don’t have that same right. Many times an officer will ask you questions prior to administering field sobriety tests and placing you under arrest. These questions have been classified as “pre-investigatory” questions and are not subject to Miranda. Therefore, it is important you speak with an experience DUI Defense Firm to know whether or not the failure to read you your rights will affect your case.
  • I was involved in an accident and someone was injured. Will I be charged with a Felony?
    Maybe. You can be charged with Felony DUI whenever anyone other than yourself is injured. Even if the injuries were to a friend and their injuries are minor, you can still be charged with a felony. Penalties for a Felony DUI can be severe because your can face time in prison.

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