The woman suspected of hitting my vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol is to be arraigned in a San Mateo County courtroom Thursday, April 23.
One dark, early morning last month, I and a couple friends were returning home from a night of dancing and dining in San Francisco on Highway 101 in San Mateo County when my right rear bumper was clipped by a woman driving an early 1990’s Toyota Camry. We weren’t hurt. Neither was she, even though her car spun out on the highway to face the wrong direction, went off the right side of the road and into the sound wall.
More than $2,200 in repairs was performed on my 2004 Chevy Aveo to replace the bumper, repaint almost the entire passenger side of my car to make sure the paint matched and lasted, as well as to check my alignment.
Her car was pretty mangled, the responding California Highway Patrol officer said.
In his report, he said the 26-year-old Redwood City woman was trying to dial on her cell phone when she dropped it. She was trying to pick it up when she swerved into my car. Her blood alcohol level was .12, according to the district attorney’s office. That’s .04 higher than the state’s legal blood alcohol limit of .08.
The woman is to hear the charges against her – misdemeanor drunken driving – today.
What do the events of that night mean for her if she is convicted?
While I wade through the legal process in San Mateo County, below is a list of the basic and/or average legal actions a person convicted of their first DUI could expect from Santa Cruz County courts, according to the local district attorney’s office. (Disclaimer: each case is treated differently based on various factors, including the amount of alcohol in the driver's system. Also, each subsequent offense ups the ante, the fees and penalties.)
* A fine of about $2,000.
* A restitution fine of about $100.
* Three to five days in jail.
* A three month DUI program, paid for by the convicted DUI driver. Failure to complete these classes will result in loss of license, a violation of probation and a trip back to jail. A six month program is typically assigned to DUI drivers with a blood alcohol level of .15 or more or to those who refuse to blow into an alcohol detecting device.
* Loss of driver’s license for 90 days for adults 21 and above; one year for people under 21. Disclaimer: while a court may say the convicted DUI driver’s privileges have been revoked for 90 days, it is up to the DMV to reissue the license. On day 91, convicted DUI drivers should go to the DMV with proof of insurance to try to get their license back from the state driver’s license issuing agency. If the driver has prior problems with the DMV, the agency may not allow him or her to drive for a year.
* DUI’s stay on the driving record forever.
Speaking of car insurance, it’s going to be costly after a DUI conviction. While some insurance companies drop their customers if they’re convicted of a DUI, others will gladly insure them -- but for a pretty penny. Those higher rates could last about five years.