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In San Francisco, a Typical Plea Bargain for a Misdemeanor DUI Is a Fine of $1800 and Three Years of Unsupervised Probation


In San Francisco if you plead out to a DUI, that is where you had an offer and you accepted an offer at or before the pre-trial conference. Usually what you’re looking at is a fine of around $1800 or $1900 plus three years of unsupervised probation, which brings with it conditions of not getting in trouble during that period of time, specifically not committing crimes.

Interviewer: If it’s unsupervised probation, would you still be monitored?

Attorney Bortel: There’s no person looking over your shoulder. Only if you got arrested of something or did something wrong that was reported to San Francisco in the probation department or the DA’s Office wanted your probation revoked, would anything happen. Usually it’s a new arrest in San Francisco that triggers a violation of probation.

Interviewer: Would the individual still be subject to the alcohol monitoring device?

Probation Does Entail a Zero Tolerance Policy for Alcohol Consumption and Driving

Attorney Bortel: No, unless the offense involved a very high blood alcohol level or it was a second offense, then that will be often required as a condition of probation. Usually it’s a second or third offense where you see that. Right now I’m just talking about most first offenses. With most first DUI offenses there is a standard penalty imposed in San Francisco. There’s a zero tolerance rule which says you can have no alcohol in your system when you’re driving. That means if you are .01, which is half or less than half of a beer depending on the type, alcohol percentage, and your weight, or other types of drinks, you can be in violation of your probation.

Now the probation means on a first DUI, that you’ve been conditionally released to the community for three years. With the penalty, if you violate your probation they can give you up to six months in jail. That rarely, if ever, happens unless you are guilty of a very serious infraction. In that case, the most jail time you would do is three of the six months because you get half time credit in San Francisco and a lot of other counties.

The Standard Penalty for a First Offense DUI Also Includes a License Suspension

Your license would be suspended by DMV once they are notified of the conviction. In order to get your license reinstated from DMV you would have to purchase some additional insurance which is called an SR22 and maintain that for three years.

You would also have to enroll in a DUI classes and eventually complete the DUI classes to have your license fully reinstated. DUI classes are usually 32 hours and it is a three month program. For higher blood alcohol levels they can require a six month program. They can require a nine month if your blood alcohol level is at or over a .20 or if it’s a refusal case. Those are the main penalties for DUIs.

In Some Cases, Your Defense Attorney Can Assist with the SR22 Insurance

Interviewer: The SR22 insurance, how much is that going to cost someone?

Attorney Bortel: It depends and there are ways that we can help our clients with that. One of the ways is if it looks like a client is going to get convicted of a DUI or not win the DMV hearing, we can help them with the timing. If they can get an SR22 either from their insurance company or a separate insurance company, then it is beneficial if they purchase it before the conviction goes into the computers at the DMV.

Auto Insurance Policies Will Become More Expensive Following a DUI Conviction

They can get rated a lower rate and they can purchase less expensive insurance. That’s something that can help. The SR22 can be expensive and regular insurance can be expensive especially after a DUI. Your insurance company will be altered when there is a conviction for a DUI and then your rates are going to go up.

Aaron Bortel

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Your Attorney May Be Able to Direct You to an Insurance Company That Will Lock Your Rate before the DUI Conviction Is Entered on your Driving Record

Then the problem with that is that you’re going to end up paying a lot more. If you go with a separate company, in my understanding, is that separate company can lock you into a cheaper rate. If your current insurance company wants to drop you or raise your rates, now because you’ve locked in with the separate SR22 insurance with a different company, you can also obtain cheaper insurance with them in many cases if it’s the right company.

This is because you’ve locked in at a lower rate with no points from DUI conviction. This issue is confusing and people have a lot of trouble understanding it but we can put people in touch with different insurance companies who can better explain this.

Cost wise, it is usually five or six hundred, sometimes a little more. For the first year for an SR22, if you do a separate policy, the cost is around two or three hundred a year after that. You have to maintain the policy for three years.

Drivers May Be Ordered to Install an Ignition Interlock Device in Their Vehicles

Also a factor in San Francisco is that some people may be ordered to install the ignition interlock. This is a device that you may be required to have attached to your ignition, in any vehicle that’s in your name, so if you have a lot of vehicles you’d have to have it in every one or else you transfer the names.

If it’s a multiple offense and you have to have an ignition interlock, and that’s something that DMV usually will require. The DA’s Office usually wants it as part of disposition on a guilty plea, or even after a conviction at trial the judge will most likely order it and the DMV will make you do it, in most cases.

You’ll have to go three months, or if it’s a third offense, six months of no driving, and then you can install the interlock device. On a second offense you can get the interlock put in your car and for the next 21 months drive with the interlock. This means before you start your car, you have to blow into it and then after 20 or 30 minutes, or depending on the company and how it’s set up, you have to blow into it again.

The best way to avoid the ignition interlock device is obviously, don’t get a DUI. The next best way is, once you have been arrested; find the best DUI lawyer you can so you can avoid the cost, pain, and embarrassment of having to have a machine that you blow into in your car.

Escalating Penalties in San Francisco: Subsequent DUI Convictions May Entail One Year in Jail

Those are most of the penalties. On a second or third DUI the maximum penalty is one year in jail. In fact, the minimum penalty for a first DUI, in San Francisco, is no jail time. On a second offense, like it is in any other county, it is ten days in jail. They’ll usually let you do that the Sheriff’s Work Program. On a third, it’s 120 days, four months, in jail. The penalties are much tougher each time you come back.

San Francisco is very tough on the jail issue. They’re not very friendly toward alternative sentencing once you have a third DUI as some other counties are.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

Get your questions answered - Call Us 24/7 For a FREE Case Evaluation (415) 523-7878.

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