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It is not a crime to drink and drive in California. However, you may not legally drive if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) has exceeded the maximum percentage allowed under California law.
You may be convicted of DUI in California if you are operating a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or more, or if you are operating a motor vehicle and have ingested drugs, either by prescription or otherwise, that impairs your ability to operate in the same manner as a sober person. However, the law is lower for commercial drivers who may not legally drive if their BAC exceeds 0.04. Finally, any driver under the age of 21 may not legally drive with a BAC exceeding 0.01.
Penalties for a 2nd DUI conviction, within 10 years of the first, include:
Penalties for a 3rd DUI conviction, within 10 years of the first, include:
Other circumstances surrounding a DUI that may increase the extent of a driver’s penalties:
Under California law, the DUI charges will be elevated to felonies, which carries harsher penalties. If a person is killed during the incident, you can be charged with the felony of vehicular manslaughter.
California has an “implied consent” law, which means that if you are suspected of drunk and driving, and refuse to submit to testing, you could face penalties such as mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.
If you are convicted of DUI in California, an alcohol education program must be completed if you wish to obtain a restricted driver’s license that would enable you to drive to work during your license suspension. Alcohol education and/or treatment programs are also a typical component of a DUI sentence in California.
If you are arrested for DUI in California, the arresting officer will serve you with a suspension notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which also serves as a temporary driver’s license good for 30 days. You must contact the DMV in order to set up an administrative hearing regarding your driver’s license within ten days of your arrest. If you fail to do so, you will lose your license 30 days from the date of your arrest. Otherwise, a hearing will be held in order to determine whether your license should be suspended or revoked, based on the facts of your case.
No. The DMV hearing is a separate administrative proceeding whose outcome does not affect your criminal charges or proceedings in any way. Your criminal penalties for a DUI conviction will be determined by a judge, not the DMV.
As of January 1, 2012 if you already have two or more DUI convictions in California, and you are again convicted of DUI within ten years, the judge has the option to revoke your license for up to ten years. This is an drastic increase to the previous law that gave the judge the discretion to either revoke a three time offender’s license for three years or suspend the offenders license for six months followed by a restricted license with a mandatory ignition interlock device.
California is one of many states with implied consent laws, which means that when you are arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you implicitly agree that you will undergo blood, urine, or breath tests to determine your level of intoxication. If you refuse to submit to the tests, and are arrested pursuant to the implied consent law, you can face an additional criminal charge, and may receive a harsher sentence, including a longer license suspension period.
Yes. A minor is subject to a mandatory license suspension of six months if convicted of DUI in California. If a minor is suspected of DUI and refuses to take a chemical test, however, he or she is subject to the same license suspension periods as an adult.
Yes. Vehicle confiscation is a remedy under California law for a DUI conviction.
If you are convicted of driving while your license is suspended due to a DUI conviction, you face incarceration for a period ranging from 10 days to 6 months, and a fine ranging from $300 to $1,000.
At the end of your license suspension period, you can get your driver’s license reinstated by paying a reissue fee at the DMV, and showing proof of financial responsibility, i.e. proof that you have vehicle insurance coverage.
A person arrested for drunk driving in California will be charged with Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”).
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This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.