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Penalties for a First Offense DUI in Marin County


I got a chance to fight in court against the system and won. “I was in the stadium parking lot after the 49er game sitting in my truck with my wife when a man approached my vehicle yelling that I bumped his rear passenger corner bumper. I explained to the man I was not driving and the truck was parked and not on, we began to yell and it got intense very fast, the security showed up during our yelling and soon after the police they separated us and gave me a sobriety balance exam that I failed, I was asked some questions and arrested and placed into custody.

My blood was withdrawn for an alcohol test at the police station in a holding room by a lady then I sat around for 8 hours and released. At the arraignment hearing I pled not guilty and was told to show up in a week for trial arrangements….

Hugo

On a regular DUI in Marin County, you’re attending a 3 month DUI school unless it’s a really high blood alcohol level where additional penalties may occur. It’s a fine which comes out to just under $2000. Offenders are also subject to a 3-year unsupervised probation, which means no probation officer, and 6 months of restricted driving. It gets complicated with DMV. It depends on how the DMV hearing is resolved and this determines whether or not you’re going to have any suspension time.

Following a DUI Conviction, You Are Subject to Marin County’s Zero Tolerance Law

The other issue, one of the biggest things that people have to watch for on a penalty on a first DUI in Marin County is the zero tolerance law. You can have no alcohol in your system when you’re driving for the next few years. That’s .01. for the majority of people and depending on how much you weigh, we’re talking could be as little as an ounce to 2 ounces of wine or part of a beer.

You just can’t have any alcohol in your system when you’re driving. If you do, you lose your license for a full year and you could be in violation of probation. This is an area where Marin County is different in the penalties they impose versus other counties.

Marin County Does Not Impose a Jail or Sheriff’s Work Program

The DA’s standard offer to someone who was arrested for a DUI has all the penalties I talked about with probation and fine and zero tolerance, but they are not asking for any jail or sheriff’s work program time. In every other county in the San Francisco Bay area, they’re usually asking for at least 2 days and in some at least 5 or 6 days of jail or picking up trash on the sheriff’s work program.

That’s where Marin comes down easier on people. They have not been asking for any time if you got convicted on a first DUI. Now, if you had a really high blood alcohol level, they may be asking for part of your penalty to be a number of AA meetings and that could be 2 or 3 a week for 3 to 6 months.

They may be asking for some community service time, such as 20 to 40 hours or more of community service. That’s just for extremely high blood alcohol levels. I usually don’t see that until someone is over a .20.

Losing a Trial by Jury for a DUI in Marin County Does Not Result in Severe Penalties

Now, the nice thing about Marin on a DUI where someone doesn’t have an extremely high blood alcohol is taking the option of going to a jury trial. The penalty, if you lose, is very close to what it would have been if you just went in and plead guilty.

Marin County Could Save Taxpayers Money by Offering DUI Charge Reductions to Avoid a Large Number of Trials

In Marin County, attorneys are more likely to encourage their clients to go to a jury trial. There’s a lot of controversy going on with this because they could have a lot less jury trials in Marin if they would just offer a reduction in the charge to a wet reckless or a dry reckless.

The county could say a lot of money. People scratch their head and say, “Why won’t you give these out?” They’re considered DUIs so if someone gets another one in 10 years after getting a wet reckless, it would count as a second DUI.

It ties up a lot of courtrooms that could be used for other things. Administrators in Marin County have been talking for years to the DA’s office, trying to convince them to modify this. So far, they really have not, other than on the marijuana DUIs.

In a regular DUI that doesn’t have a high blood alcohol level, if you lost the trial, they would give you 5 days in jail, which you can almost always do on the sheriff’s work program. Very often, you get credit for a day or two because of time that you spent in custody.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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