HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Oops, got a DUI
January 1, 2017 4:14 PM   Subscribe

18 year old son blew a .15 in California on the night before new years eve at around 2:30 am. He was caught kind of randomly, there was no accident or swerving or anything, BUT, we all know that it doesn't matter because being intoxicated behind the wheel put people's lives at risk.

I know he'll lose his license for at least a year and that this is being considered a misdemeanor.

What we need to know is how to petition for driving privileges for work and school (if possible) and what to expect in fines, fees and auto insurance.

I've never had a DUI and don't know anyone who has and my Google-Fu is failing me.

Just want to figure out how if he can still drive to school and work...

Many thanks in advance and I hope you're having a better New Year than we are! : )
posted by 1980sPunkersForHillary.com to Law & Government (25 answers total)
Google "DUI lawyer [your city or county]". It'll cost you, but these people get really good at navigating the courts.
posted by Etrigan at 4:17 PM on January 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

For starters, expect his car insurance to SKYROCKET. That's assuming a car insurance company will insure him.

In my state at least, expect him to take remedial classes, counseling, and associated fees.
posted by 81818181818181818181 at 4:25 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

He is likely to be denied entry into Canada.
posted by heatherlogan at 4:29 PM on January 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

In my state (Wisconsin) you can drive your vehicle if a breathalyzer device is installed. It's very expensive to get one of these things.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:31 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Google "DUI lawyer [your city or county]".

I'll suggest adding "flat rate" or "first offense" to that search. In many places the process for dealing with a first DUI is very straightforward and some lawyers specialize in that kind of thing.
posted by paulcole at 4:36 PM on January 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

A DUI is a very serious matter and an underage DUI even more so. He needs a lawyer and a serious look at his relationship with alcohol.
posted by Pineapplicious at 4:42 PM on January 1, 2017 [33 favorites]

Yes , an attorney now. Also being proactive about addressing the substance issue before he goes to court may be helpful... But check with the attorney about that as well. And if the car is in your name, you have some liability if he were to have an accident.
posted by HuronBob at 4:50 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, I've known several people, including some in CA, with DUIs. The answer is lawyer. It might be up to $10,000, but it will very likely be worth it in the end. And find a lawyer who works in the court system that your son was cited in.
posted by umwhat at 4:51 PM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

A friend had a DUI in California and lost his license completely for several months and then got it back for use to/from work only. So I would start planning with him now on how he can get to school and work without driving because it may be a while. So, until you get more information from a lawyer, assume he is without a car for the near future.
posted by metahawk at 5:08 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ok, still researching...it's called a Restricted Hardship License.

Thanks for the help. I can't even believe this happened.
posted by 1980sPunkersForHillary.com at 5:26 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Absolutely get a lawyer.

I know someone who got a DUI at a young (though over 21) age, and he said the $10K for his lawyer was the best money he ever spent and he'd do it again in a heartbeat. This is not something to screw around with.
posted by phunniemee at 5:53 PM on January 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

As others have pointed out, you won't get an answer here except to get a lawyer, because questions about what to expect from DUIs usually come down to how individual jurisdictions handle things, nevermind individual states. That being said, DUIs are uniformly extremely expensive (not just fines, but also there may be required classes/counseling, which you will also need to pay for) -- point being, he needs to start saving now, and I'd also probably look into public transportation options to get to work (or finding another job) as hardship exceptions to license suspensions tend to be rather narrow.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:00 PM on January 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Where I live in California, there are PSA billboards that say the average DUI costs $40k.
posted by bradbane at 6:59 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

check your mefi mail
posted by dogmom at 7:04 PM on January 1, 2017

Ugh, so I have a lot of experience with this (and now I am much happier and healthier and no longer drink, but yeah). His life is about to be much more complicated for a while, but the good news is that if he figures stuff out now, he will have a normal life within a couple of years.

First advice: absolute secure an attorney. If he blew that high and is under 21, from my initial research it looks like facing jail time, 3-5 years of probation, alcohol education programs, and other consequences. This is not something to be cheap about - if you can get this offense reduced, do it. With that in mind, buddy needs to take this seriously and really, really re-evaluate his relationship with alcohol. If he's not scared, he should be. The attorney will also help you navigate the license suspension hearing and with the restricted hardship license.

Second advice: buddy needs to understand that the vast majority of people go through life without getting a DWI. Getting a DWI (especially when you're underage) is the sign of a not-so-great relationship with alcohol - now, not all folks who get DWIs have to stop drinking forever or are alcoholics, but it's definitely a warning sign that should be taken seriously. .15 is a high BAC. California is zero-tolerance for any BAC with folks under 21, but he was above the legal limit for everyone. This is serious stuff.

Third advice: Look at Progressive Car Insurance. They are far and away the best for dealing with DWIs - assuming you have safe driving, your rates will go back to normal within 3 years, and they tend to penalize less than other insurance providers. This might be different since he's under 21, though.

Rooting for y'all (and him). It'll suck and be tough for a while, but this is also a lesson in maturity and entitlement on his part. Let me know if you have any questions - I have more experience in Texas, but I will offer support in any way I can.
posted by superlibby at 8:28 PM on January 1, 2017 [25 favorites]

Start figuring out how he is going to do things now without a car and no driving. At this point it can be months until he is sentenced and even more time to secure a hardship licence if he gets one at all.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:47 PM on January 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

What is the population density of where he was arrested? How sympathetic the judge will be really depends on which court he will be going to.
posted by corb at 9:52 PM on January 1, 2017

Oh, a bit more advice while I'm thinking about it - the more evidence you have that he is taking this seriously, the better. If he can do an IOP program for alcohol use, start attending AA meetings (you can make a notecard that the meeting organizer will initial saying he attended), or any other concrete and specific actions that show he is concerned about his drinking, that will make negotiating the sentence more palatable for the state. I know this sounds cynical, and I totally understand that your son may not believe he has an alcohol problem. However, in the eyes of the state, his drinking has already gotten in the way of him being a safe citizen and he is putting others at risk. This isn't the time to be defensive or petulant - sincerity, commitment to change, and a good attorney will go a long way in making this easier. The attorney will likely have other suggestions to - voluntarily getting an IID installed in the car, getting an evaluation, etc.
posted by superlibby at 2:08 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

In my state (Wisconsin) you can drive your vehicle if a breathalyzer device is installed. It's very expensive to get one of these things.

The second sentence is patently false. It is quite cheap (usually free) to get them installed, and the lease on them is something like $75 a month. Search for "interlock" to confirm.

slightly off-topic, but in case others find this question and find it useful
posted by King Bee at 4:12 PM on January 2, 2017

Recovering alcoholic here w/2 DUI's from many (20+) years ago. So, yeah, my first DUI was at 19 and I lost my license, could only drive to work during certain hours, and had to get a special bond called an SR-22 to insure me. I didn't have the money for an attorney to get the charges lowered to reckless operation, which at the time I was pissed off about. So when I got my 2nd DUI, I spent more time in jail, paid more fines and was told that if I got a 3rd, I will forfeit my car. Yikes. It ultimately was better for me b/c it made me stop drinking and driving.

A DUI is a very serious matter and an underage DUI even more so. He needs a lawyer and a serious look at his relationship with alcohol.

Second advice: buddy needs to understand that the vast majority of people go through life without getting a DWI.

I mostly agree with these statements, particularly in my case. However, drinking and driving in general is a very serious matter and plenty of people do it every day and don't get caught. Social drinkers drink and drive and don't get DUI's, so it doesn't necessarily mean that your son is a problem drinker or alcoholic. In fact, my own mother who is a teetotaler now and used to drink every now and then got pulled over for drinking and driving after drinking too much at a wedding many years ago. That was back when the cops would bring you home instead of taking you to jail. Long time ago.

I just want to say that it's the drinking and driving that's the problem, not the getting in trouble for it. And having to suffer the consequences of that decision is hopefully the deterrent from making the same choice again.
posted by strelitzia at 8:44 AM on January 3, 2017

Depending on many factors, state court ordered programs could have very long wait lists.

Your lawyer will know if there is a common one in the area for your situation and if he should go ahead and sign up now.

In addition your son should not drink any alcohol at all period until this is over. As an underage drinker, if he gets caught even just drinking it will mess up his case and cause future problems. If he has trouble with this it is a sign he has a bad relationship with alcohol.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:21 AM on January 3, 2017

My ex had two DUIs within five years, the first in Utah, the second in California. The first DUI was taken into consideration for the sentencing on the second - California is pretty much zero tolerance on DUIs. His license was suspended for a year and he was placed on probation for five.

Fortunately, his family had money so they threw about $12k on a lawyer and STILL the sentence was what it was. He also ended up having to do two weeks in jail, but because the jails in Los Angeles County are full, he got out with doing about a third of that time. Please get a lawyer.
posted by Everydayville at 9:59 PM on January 3, 2017

Maybe have him read this story about someone with a 0.16 blood alcohol level
posted by salvia at 1:15 PM on January 4, 2017

A poster who wishes to remain anonymous says:
I got a DUI a little over 5 years ago in CA and am just past the point of having it behind me (almost). I was in my 30s and blew a .10 so some information may not be as pertinent to your son. I was living out of the state when I got it so I didn't take care of it until 3 years ago, which is the real magic number in putting it behind me.

My license was immediately suspended. I worked with a lawyer who went to court for me and I ended up receiving 3 years probation and 3 months of classes. Your son should sign up for classes immediately, as well as AA. Not only to make things happen faster, it also shows that he's serious about the incident when he goes in front of the judge. Since your son is under 21, the suspension will be much harsher. Don't expect him to be able to get any hint of driving privileges for at least a year, even for work/school. Even for 21+, there's a mandatory 4 month suspension, which can be limited to 1 month for work or (rarely) school. In order for me to get any driving privileges back I needed to show class completion, pay all the various fines, install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and have proof of insurance. That plus lawyer was several thousand dollars.

The classes are what they are, but they will certainly keep you from making the same mistake twice (especially since 2nd offense is a full year of classes (if you're 21+)).

The IID is required to be installed in every car your son drives. It's a pain in the butt to use it every time you start your car, and also will make you re-test while you're driving. My partner also had to use the IID to start our car, which made me feel extra terrible. My drivers license also indicated that I was to be in a vehicle with an IID (a nice touch). I needed an IID for 5 months and would have to also take it for monthly calibrations. Just more fees.

In order to get insurance when you have a DUI, you need to work with an insurer who can submit an SR-22 for you, which proves to the DMV that you're insurable. Progressive has a subsidiary called Drive Insurance who will do that for you. I worked through an insurance agent to find a company who would insure me. My rate doubled to about 2k/year. My probation period meant that I had to have the SR-22 on file with the DMV for 3 years. I'm just getting past that point now and expect my premiums to decrease. Unfortunately, some higher-end insurers like AAA will not insure 'bad drivers' for 10 years past their incident.

So for me the process to get my license back was 3 months classes, then 5 months with the IID, and 3 years needing an SR-22 on file to get insurance.

Oh, and the not-being-able-to-go-to-Canada was BS for me. I traveled there for a weekend while I was in the middle of my classes (with suspended license) and there were no issues.

Throughout the ordeal, the Mandatory Actions Unit in Sacramento was a great way for me to talk to a real person at the DMV who knew everything about DUI procedures and had access to my DMV records: (916) 657-6525.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:21 PM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey, just want to thank everyone for the insightful and intelligent responses and advice.

We're working on a quasi-rehab drug/alcohol training. I'm sure that will help both in court and in a "scared straight" way with my son.

The horrific irony of this is that he's actually a "straight edge" guy and is vehemently against drugs and alcohol. He still won't tell me exactly what happened because this is so...you know what I mean.

Thanks for the great advice and well wishes.
posted by 1980sPunkersForHillary.com at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2017

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