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DUI in California | Drunk Driving Rules & Penalties

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Have you ever been arrested for consuming and driving? This text evaluations legal guidelines, penalties, and basic authorized procedures for DUI in California.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: Lower than 10 minutes


In California, DUI and DWI are comparatively interchangeable phrases.


A DUI means “driving under the influence” whereas DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated”. [1] They’re each acronyms for driving with a blood alcohol content material, or BAC, over the authorized restrict or driving whereas impaired resulting from drug use.

Throughout the nation, the restrict for BAC is zero.08% should you’re 21 or older. In case you’re beneath 21, then the authorized restrict is zero.01%. In the event you’re caught breaking these limits, you’ll be charged with a DUI.

Within the state of California, there often is not any distinction between DUI or DWI. Each phrases confer with alcohol or drug-related driving incidents.

The confusion between the definition of every lies in the truth that some states check with a DUI when discussing an alcohol-related incident whereas utilizing DWI to confer with a drug-related incident.Relying on the state and county you’re in, you might be charged with both a DUI or a DWI.

Moreover, there are specific guidelines inside the state of California. [2] For instance, should you’re on DUI probation, you’re not allowed to have over zero.01% BAC in your system. Or in case you’re in a car which requires a business driver’s license, you possibly can’t have a restrict of greater than zero.04% BAC.


In California, sobriety checkpoints are allowed. Sobriety checkpoints permit police to briefly cease automobiles at particular, extremely seen places to see if the driving force is impaired. Police might cease all or a sure portion of drivers. At a checkpoint, breath exams could also be given if police have a cause to suspect the driving force is intoxicated.

What occurs subsequent?

For those who’re pulled over and the breathalyzer exhibits that your BAC is greater than the authorized restrict to drive … or for those who refuse testing, administrative license revocation or suspension legal guidelines permit police to remove your license. Additionally, you will be arrested.

In the event you’re arrested as a consequence of a DUI, the Division of Motor Car will instantly take motion and droop or take away your license. This differs from the motion which can be taken towards you in courtroom. Relying in your state of affairs, you might face the next penalties in a courtroom of regulation:

  • Completion of DUI faculty
  • Delay in Driver’s License
  • Fantastic
  • Jail time

Any courtroom convictions shall be positioned on report. That is achieved for the sake of notifying the courtroom if new convictions seem in the longer term. With that in thoughts, penalties worsen should you drive underneath the affect once more.

Misdemeanor or Felony?

Whether or not you obtain a misdemeanor or felony in a California courtroom solely is determined by your state of affairs. In the event you’re pulled over at a DUI checkpoint and are have over zero.08% BAC, you’ll probably be charged with a misdemeanor. Most courses of misdemeanors outcome in the next:

  • A advantageous of $1,000.
  • Group service.
  • Counseling.
  • Probation.
  • As much as one yr in jail.

Nevertheless, if another person is both harm or killed in an accident as a consequence of your DUI, then you definitely’re more likely to face a felony. Moreover, misdemeanors and felonies are divided into courses to raised go well with totally different crimes. [2] For instance, a first-degree felony is charged or the worst of crimes and may result in life in jail and even the dying penalty.

1st DUI

When you’re a first-time offender, it’s in California’s greatest curiosity to be sure to don’t break the regulation once more in the longer term. Subsequently, a lot of the results you obtain are to study higher from legal tendencies.

Upon receiving your first DUI,you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor which often outcomes in the next penalties [4]:

  • A advantageous between $390 and $1,000.
  • Jail time between 48 hours and 6 months.
  • A 6 month license suspension.

In particular counties, comparable to Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare, first-time offenders should set up and protect an ignition interlock gadget, or IID, for 5 months after completion of their license suspension.

2nd DUI

Upon receiving your second DUI in California, you’ll be once more charged with a misdemeanor which often outcomes in the next penalties:

  • A superb of anyplace between $390 and $1,000.
  • Jail-time of anyplace between 96 hours to 1 yr.
  • Alternate home arrest or work packages.
  • A 2 yr license suspension.
  • Probation for Three years and 18 to 30 months of DUI faculty.
  • Ignition interlock system for 12 months in some counties.

third DUI

Upon receiving your third DUI in the state, you’re more likely to obtain a better degree misdemeanor which often outcomes in the next penalties:

  • A superb of anyplace between $390 and $1,000.
  • Jail time of anyplace between 120 days to 1 yr.
  • A one to 3 yr license suspension.
  • Casual probation of Three-5 years with 30 months of DUI faculty.
  • Ignition interlock gadget for 24 months in some counties.

Why danger jail time? Name us to study rehab.

Jail Time

So, are you able to go to jail for DUI in CA?

Sure, jail time is feasible for DUI convictions in California. The truth is, chances are you’ll obtain a sentence with jail time for a DUI if:

  • Another person was harm on account of your DUI.
  • You refuse checkpoint testing.
  • You enter a plea discount.

If one other individual is killed in an accident because of the DUI, you’ll instantly be charged beneath California Penal Code 191.5 with vehicular manslaughter. This will end result in anyplace between 2 years to life in jail, relying on previous legal fees.Additional, for those who’re DUI is because of drug-related points and also you’re caught in possession of medicine through the time of your arrest, you possibly can anticipate to be prosecuted.

Nevertheless, jail sentences are sometimes decrease in your first offense instances. Sentencing phrases rise should you re convicted of further DUI offenses inside a 10-year window. If these offenses are, jail sentences can even improve. You possibly can anticipate will increase in jail time sentencing for DUI should you:

  • Are beneath the age of 21.
  • Had a BAC of over zero.15%.
  • Had a toddler beneath the age of 14 in the automotive.
  • Have been driving properly over the velocity restrict.

With a purpose to get a transparent sense of whether or not or not you danger jail time and the way a lot of it, you’re going to need to speak to a lawyer. Legal professionals have one of the best understanding of your case and the results which can comply with.

Courses and DUI Faculty

Beneath Car Code 23152, drivers convicted of a DUI or “wet” driving offense should enroll in a California DUI faculty. There are round 500 licensed DUI packages inside California, all of which give in-person courses. It ought to be famous, on-line courses DO NOT rely in the direction of California’s DUI packages.

The quantity of money and time you spend on DUI faculty relies upon solely in your state of affairs. The next info is an estimated value and courses offered by Shouse California Regulation Group:

  • Beneath-21 first offender- $270 – 12 hours
  • “Wet reckless” offender – $270 – 12 hours
  • First DUI with BAC of beneath zero.2 – $843 –30 hours inside Three months
  • First DUI with BAC of zero.2 or larger – $1,850 –60 hours inside 9 months
  • Repeat moist reckless offender – $1,850 –60 hours inside 9 months
  • Repeat DUI offender – $1,900 to $2,600 – 18 months
  • Repeat DUI offender with BAC of zero.2 or larger – $Three,000 – 30 months
  • Repeat DUI offender with greater than 2 offenses – $Three,000 – 30 months

Once more, the worth and the way a lot time you spend in DUI faculty will rely upon the county you’re from and the precise legal guidelines of that space.

Repeat DUIs is an indication of a consuming drawback.

Statute of Limitations

From the date of your DUI arrest, the district lawyer has one yr to file fees for a misdemeanor. In case your case includes a felony, the federal government is allowed three years to file fees.

Which means if the state prosecutors don’t file a legal cost inside the limits, you’ll be free from prosecution. The logic behind this statute of limitations is that:

  • Eyewitness reminiscence weakens over time.
  • Proof worsens over time.

Moreover, in case you are charged with a DUI, it’ll keep on report for a few ten-year interval. In some instances, DUIs are held on report for an indefinite interval. These statute of limitations are for first-time offenses and WILL DIFFER with a second or third-time offense. You’ll be able to contact the county’s public report workplace the place you have been convicted of DUI for extra info.

Your DUI report is logged in the judicial system for 10 years.


Many individuals take a look at expungement as a “do-over”. It’s potential in California. The follow of expungement is permitted underneath Penal Code 1203.four. Often, individuals hunt down this feature when looking for a job.

Nevertheless, the one option to expunge a DUI off your legal report is to take action after the case is over.
Anybody who acquired a California misdemeanor or felony shall be allowed expungement from their DUI so long as:

  • They’ve accomplished their probation for the offense.
  • Didn’t serve time in a state jail.
  • You’re coated by the realignment regulation beneath Proposition 47.

As a way to obtain an expungement, it’s essential to petition the courtroom of your conviction. Your petition will then be handed to a decide for evaluation and s/he’ll decide your eligibility. In case you are eligible for expungement, you’ll be granted the power to enter a “not guilty” plea or given a verdict to expunge your report.

It must be famous that the primary objective for expunging DUI expenses is for the sake of employment. In the event you have been to obtain one other DUI inside a 10-year interval, your conviction will nonetheless be tracked as a “prior offense” in the identical method as if it had not been expunged.

Contemplating your choices? Ever considered rehab?

DUI Lawyer Prices

It’s no secret that legal professionals are costly. In terms of DUI fees, there are some situations the place accepting the results is much less consequential than hiring a lawyer. That is because of the wide selection of lawyer prices inside the state of California.

For this instance, we’ll be utilizing Los Angeles county the place a primary lawyer with simply sufficient expertise will value you anyplace between $2,500 to $Three,500. As you’ll be able to see, in the event you’re a primary time offender, that worth is already greater than the positive you could be given on your DUI.

Nevertheless, if you’d like an excellent lawyer, you’re going to be taking a look at a price of round $four,000 to $5,500. In the event you’re trying to rent a fantastic lawyer with loads of expertise defending individuals with DUI’s, you’re going to pay a worth which exceeds $6,000.

A lawyer might sound like a very good choice in order to scale back the penalties you’ll obtain out of your DUI. Nevertheless, it have to be famous all the opposite bills a DUI comes with. For instance:

  • Courts and fines will add as much as round $2,000.
  • DUI Faculty might be anyplace from $400 to over $1,000.
  • Your insurance coverage charges will go as much as round $2,500 per yr.
  • You may obtain an ignition interlock system which may value $500 or extra.

Drug courts can order rehab in lieu of penalties.

Is Rehab an Choice?

As talked about above, it’s in California’s greatest curiosity to get criminals off the streets and supply them the assistance they want. Subsequently, should you’re dealing with a DUI in California, it’s in your greatest curiosity to look into drug courts in your space. Drug courts can order rehab in lieu of different penalties.

A drug courtroom is a specialised courtroom which presents totally different prospects aside from conventional imprisonment for drug and alcohol use. Each adults and juveniles have entry to those courts. In response to the Judicial Department of California, the aim of those courts:

  1. Lower the probability of a repeat legal offense and drug abuse amongst those that offend.
  2. Improve the probabilities of offenders efficiently attain sobriety by way of remedy.

Beneath the Meeting Invoice No. 848, sure offenders are granted entry to remedy amenities and different preliminary remedy providers. Nevertheless, your allowance for a drug courtroom will rely in your case. In case you are sentenced with a misdemeanor, you’re extra more likely to achieve entry to a drug courtroom than somebody sentenced with a felony.

Once more, converse with a lawyer for extra details about this feature.

Your Questions

When you have any additional questions pertaining to DUI legal guidelines in the state of California, we invite you to ask them under. In case you have any additional info on California DUI legal guidelines, we’d additionally love to listen to from you. We attempt to reply to every remark in a immediate and private method.

Reference Sources
[1] NHTSA: Drunk Driving
[2] State of California: Blood Alcohol Limits
[3] Driving Legal guidelines: Penalties for DUI in California
[4] California DMV: Driver Security Faculty
NHTSA: Crash Stats