DUI Laws in California

DUI Laws in California

DUI Laws in California

DUI laws in California make it illegal for motorists to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Some drivers have to follow much stricter guidelines. For example, drivers of commercial vehicles that test for a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .04% or more have violated a California DUI law. The state punishes drivers under the age of 21 with a DUI if they test for a BAC of just .01%. For other drivers, the BAC limit for driving a motor vehicle is .08%.

Most states have implemented a standard for issuing a DUI charge that requires law enforcement to demonstrate a motorist was in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence. In California, the state must prove a motorist drove the vehicle. It is not enough to demonstrate a motorist was in actual physical control of the vehicle.

Penalties for Breaking DUI Laws in California

The criminal justice system in California issues penalties for DUIs based on the evidence collected in a case, as well as the circumstances that led up to the arrest. California DUI laws typically base the severity of a penalty on the number of prior convictions. For example, a defendant that does not have any prior convictions for a DUI has a better chance of receiving a lenient sentence than a defendant that has two prior DUI convictions

Here is an overview of the possible penalties for a DUI conviction in California:

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Incarceration No more than 6 months Between 4 days and I year Between 120 days and 1 year
Fines Between $390 and $1,000 Between $390 and $1,000 No more than $1,800
Suspended License 6 months 2 years 3 years
Interlock Ignition Device No more than 6 months or 12-month restricted license 1 year 2 years

Interlock Ignition Device

A Judge might order a DUI offender to install an interlock ignition device (IID) to prevent the driver from driving while impaired. According to DUI laws in California, judges must give an IID ruling more consideration for a first-time DUI offender who measured .20 in BAC. No IID order can exceed three years.

A California resident who receives a second or third DUI conviction within 10 years can apply for a restricted driver’s license. The restricted driver’s license makes it unlawful for the DUI offender to operate a motor vehicle unless the offender equips the vehicle with an IID.

California DUI Charge That Results in a Felony Conviction

A vast majority of DUI charges are considered misdemeanors. California DUI law allows prosecutors to up a criminal charge to a felony if one or more specific factors apply to a case.

  • Caused serious or life-threatening injuries to one or more people
  • Caused the death of another person
  • Previously convicted of a DUI
  • Three or more DUI convictions within the previous 10 years

A DUI felony conviction in California can result in much a harsher prison sentence and a significantly higher fine.

California DUI Laws and Commercial Drivers

The stricter .04% BAC standard is just one difference in how California treats commercial drivers that face a DUI charge. A driver of a commercial vehicle that receives a first DUI conviction is prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If the commercial driver was hauling hazardous materials, the prohibition of driving a commercial vehicle lasts three years. Commercial drivers that receive a second DUI conviction for driving any type of vehicle cannot drive a commercial vehicle for life, although the State of California can reduce the punishment to 10 years.

Contact a DUI Lawyer

The SimmonsWagner Law Firm has established a strong record defending clients against DUI charges. We also help clients manage administrative responsibilities, such as the timely filing of form SR-22 that proves you have purchased the proper amount of insurance.

You can reach DUI attorney Scott Simmons or Dan Wagner by calling (949) 439-5857.