Top Ten Questions > From Non-Residents

7. What is a typical DUI sentence?

In Mendocino County, for a "standard" adult first offense DUI where the alcohol test results show under 0.15% blood alcohol, and where there are no other aggravating facts or charges alleged (e.g., no collision, refusals, child endangerment, evading, bad driving, old prior convictions), and where there are no viable legal defenses or other compelling facts in mitigation, a knowledgeable local Ukiah DUI attorney will tell you that most defendants in a Mendocino County DUI case can anticipate two days of jail, a minimum 30 days driver license suspension, approximately $2600 in court fines (defendants may routinely obtain affordable monthly payments as little as $50 per month), five years informal probation, and three months of once-weekly DUI program classes in Ukiah. Starting January 1, 2019, California courts join at least 28 Other States in requiring installation of an ignition interlock breathalyzer device for up to six months for a first offense DUI conviction. CVC 23575.3.states

Many people convicted of a first or second DUI offense in California feel that the penalties imposed by California courts are overly harsh, but a new study comparing DUI penalties in each of the 50 U.S. states, conducted by, finds that California was more lenient than many other states, ranking as only the 21st strictest state nationwide for DUI penalties, just about average among West Coast states, and about average for the entire western region of the United States, although penalties have tightened from only a year ago when California ranked only 34th strictest in the nation.

As of 2017, seven western states ranked substantially higher (stricter) than California, including Arizona (ranked the #1 strictest state in the country), Alaska (3rd), Utah (8th), Colorado (11th), Washington (15th), Oregon (16th), and Nevada (18th). Only five western states were found to be more lenient than California, including Hawaii (26th), New Mexico (29th), Wyoming (37th), Montana (40th), and Idaho (47th).

The best Mendocino DUI lawyers will resolve many first offense cases with better results (for example, a dismissal, or a "Wet Reckless" with no jail or license suspension), but cases may resolve with higher penalties if there are no defenses but aggravating factors are present, such as higher alcohol levels, collision, hit & run, evading, resisting arrest, refusal to give a chemical sample, or old DUI cases outside ten years from a current DUI arrest.

By contrast, a typical "standard" second DUI conviction in Mendocino County (prior DUI arrest within ten years of current DUI arrest), usually increases a defendant's jail exposure from two days to 10-30 days, increases the ignition interlock breathalyzer device from six months to at least one to three years, increases the minimum three-month DUI program classes to the 18-month DUI program, increases the minimum 30 days no driving to 90 days to one-year license suspension, and may include added terms of informal probation, such as refrain from alcohol use or possession, waive police search rights to enforce no-alcohol orders, and stay away from places where alcohol is the primary item for sale.

The best Mendocino DUI lawyers will focus their efforts for nonresidents exclusively on dismissing a DUI case, and at the very least minimizing the burden of any consequences by focusing on jail alternatives and avoiding any other requirement to return to California. Click on our Mendocino County DUI Lawyer Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI on this site for a detailed discussion about typical Mendocino County DUI resolutions. Consult with a Mendocino County DUI attorney about your specific case.


Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, North Bay resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.


Dave Jake Schwartz