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California’s DUI Penalties

DUI penalties

With increasing public outrage over drunk driving accidents and fatalities, many states have cracked down on impaired driving. California is no exception; DUI penalties can be severe, even for first time offenders. That is why it is in your best interests to fight hard against DUI charges.

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you will have two separate legal proceedings:

  1. An administrative hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regarding your driver’s license suspension; and
  2. Criminal proceedings relating to the DUI charges.

Serious and separate consequences may result from each of the proceedings. It is important that a defense be mounted to challenge the DMV and court proceedings. In order to challenge a DMV suspension, the driver, or preferably an attorney, must request a hearing within 10 days of the arrest. We offer free DMV hearings for all DUI clients.

Driving Privilege Penalties for DUI

If you are arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license and issue an order of suspension and temporary driver’s license good for 30 days. After that 30-day period, your driving privileges will be suspended for:

  • 4 months for a first offense if you are 21 or older with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more;
  • 1 year for a second or subsequent offense within 10 years.

Different restrictions apply to underage drivers. It is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to consume any alcohol. Zero tolerance laws were enacted in California in 1994 to address underage drinking and driving. If you are under 21 and charged with driving with a BAC of .01% or higher, your driving privileges will be suspended for 1 year following a first offense.

Under California’s implied consent laws, drivers are required to submit to chemical testing of their breath, blood, or urine (if neither a blood or breath test is available) to determine the blood alcohol content if lawfully arrested for a DUI. Refusal to do so carries a potential DMV license suspension or revocation, whether or not you are convicted of DUI, as follows:

  • 1 year suspension for a first offense
  • 2 year revocation for a second offense within 10 years
  • 3 year revocation for a third or subsequent offense within 10 years

You will have to pay DMV a fee to reinstate your license after it has been suspended. The court also may require you to have installed on your vehicle at your own expense an ignition interlock device to prevent your vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath. DMV also may require that you have an SR-22 (high risk liability insurance coverage) certificate.

Criminal Penalties for DUI Conviction

If you are convicted of DUI, criminal penalties can include fines and jail time. California law includes a 10-year “look back” period, which means that penalties are increasingly harsher for subsequent offenses committed within a 10-year period.

Generally, for adult drivers with BAC of .08% or higher, for accidents resulting in no bodily injury or death, maximum penalties run as follows. Call Andrade Law Offices for information specific to your case.

ChargeJail TimeFines are approximations and vary depending on countyOther requirements: Vary depending on county
1st Offense*Misdemeanor4 days to 6 months$1,8003-9 month alcohol school & driver’s license suspension
2nd Offense (within 10 years)*Misdemeanor10 days to 1 year$2,000Multiple offender alcohol school and driver’s license suspension
3rd Offense*Misdemeanor4 months to 1 year$2,000Multiple offender alcohol school and driver’s license suspension
4th Offense (Felony or Misdemeanor)Felony or Misdemeanor180 days minimum to 3 years if prosecuted as a felony$2,000Multiple offender alcohol school and driver’s license revocation

*Any DUI with injury can be charged as a Felony

Attendance and completion of a DUI program will also be required. Penalties may be more severe with a BAC of .15% or higher.

Legal Help Fighting DUI Charges

If you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. At Andrade Law Offices, we believe in fighting hard against DUI charges right from the start.

Attorney Steven R. Andrade is a former prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General. He has been practicing for decades and knows both sides of the criminal justice system. He has successfully defended thousands of clients facing DUI charges. He has the knowledge, experience, and dedication to aggressively pursue a favorable resolution of your case.