Frequently Asked Questions

Will I go to jail for a DUI?

The answer is complicated. You need to talk to us to get the full story, but here is a summary.

A DUI is normally a misdemeanor, unless there are injuries or you have three or more prior convictions within 10 years. However, even for a misdemeanor, you can indeed do jail time.

On a first offense the maximum is six months, and for a second and third DUI the maximum is one year. The fourth DUI can result in up to 3 years in prison (but normally this is served in a local jail.) Also, on a third DUI the Vehicle Code says the minimum sentence is 120 days.

The good news is that a good attorney can usually work out a deal where you do not do any actual jail time in custody. The options include work release, house arrest or a treatment facility.


Under certain conditions, the California Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend or revoke your driver's license. This means either the DMV or the court has decided that you are NOT allowed to operate a motor vehicle until the suspension or revocation is lifted and your license is reinstated.


Here are the main reasons your CA driver's license could be suspended:

1. No Insurance
If you're not insured and get in an accident, your driver's license will be suspended for four years. After one year, it may be returned if you provide proof of insurance to the DMV, and maintain it for the next three years.

2. Failure to Report an accident

3. Driving under the influence (DUI) conviction
California has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and your license will be suspended for six months upon your first conviction. You may petition for a restricted license in some cases. A second and third conviction may cause a loss of your license for even longer. However, there is an option for early relief if you install an Ignition Interlock Device.

4. Underage drinking
You'll lose your driver's license for one year or until you turn 18, whichever is later. However, there is a method for obtaining a restricted license if you can show a critical need.

5. Failure or refusal of a drug or alcohol test
California's implied consent laws mean that if you refuse a blood, breath, or urine test to avoid getting a DUI, your license will be suspended or revoked even if you're innocent.

6. Excessive points on driving record
If you have too many points, the California DMV will put you on driving probation for one year, including a license suspension for six months, or revoke your driver's license altogether.

7. Vandalism
Your driver's license will be suspended for one year. If you're too young to drive, your right to apply for a driver's license will be delayed by one year.

8. Failure to pay Child Support. Family Code §17520.


The steps you take to get your license back depend on the reason(s) it was suspended. The following are common reasons and examples of what you might need to do.

If you were convicted of drinking under the influence (DUI):

1. Complete a Mandatory Suspension Period: On the first conviction, the court will suspend your driving privilege for six months and require you to complete a DUI program before you can be reinstated. If your Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) was .15% or higher and you already had a record of violations for other reasons OR you refused to submit to a chemical test, the court may order you to complete a nine-month or longer program. If your BAC was .20% or higher and the court refers you to an enhanced DUI treatment program, your license will be suspended for 10 months.
2. Pay a Reissuance Fee and provide proof of financial responsibility.
3. DUI Treatment Program: Show Proof of enrollment in DUI Treatment Program and a Certificate of Completion (DL-101) once completed.


Depending on the reason(s) for your suspension, you may be able to obtain a restricted license, which will allow you to drive in to limited places while your license is suspended.

For a first time DUI's, if you have a non-commercial driver license and you show proof of enrollment in a DUI treatment program, you may be able to get a restricted license after a mandatory 30-day suspension to drive to and from the DUI treatment program and/or work.

For a second and third time DUI, after you serve the initial 90 or 180 day suspension, you can apply for a license if you enroll in the DUI school and install an Ignition Interlock Device.

DMV issues are complex, and not all the information provided here may apply to you. Call us and we will be happy to explain your exact situation.


"Expungement" is a term used when referring to a process of cleaning up your criminal record. In this process, you request that the court reopen your criminal case, withdraw the plea or guilty verdict, dismiss the charges, and re-close the case without a conviction. In effect, you are no longer a convicted person. The case record itself will still exist, but the outcome of the case showing in your record will no longer be your plea or conviction, but instead it will show as DISMISSED.

There are some restrictions and limitations. For most people, the benefits of an expungement far outweigh these restrictions. For example, under California Labor Code § 432.7, employers cannot ask about arrests that did not end in conviction, convictions that have been judicially dismissed, or about any diversion or similar programs. If the employer is aware of any such arrests or programs, they cannot use this information to make hiring, promotion, or firing decisions.

Once a conviction is expunged, it becomes an arrest that did not end in conviction. Legally, you may answer "No" to these types of questions when applying with a private employer.

Expungement issues are complex, and not all the information provided here may apply to you. Call us and we will be happy to explain your exact situation.


I want to cultivate marijuana. I want to sell marijuana.

For a summary of the California marijuana laws, click here