Do You Have Questions about California DUI Penalties? We Can Help

Speak With Our San Diego Lawyer about California DUI Penalties Now!
Speak With Our San Diego Lawyer about California DUI Penalties Now!

Free Consultation

    FIRST NAME *

    LAST NAME *

    EMAIL ADDRESS *

    PHONE NUMBER *

    HOW CAN WE HELP?

    Best DUI LAWYER NEAR ME

    California DUI Penalties

    The state of California has taken a strong stance on driving under the influence (DUI) offenses, and DUIs are prosecuted and punished harshly in California, even misdemeanor DUIs. In fact, the moment you are arrested for drunk driving in California, before you even have the chance to defend yourself, your driver’s license will be confiscated and your license suspension will go into effect within just 30 days, unless you take immediate action to retain your driving privileges. Generally speaking, the penalties associated with a California DUI depend on the defendant’s criminal history and the circumstances of the case, namely whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of the DUI. Most DUIs in California are misdemeanor offenses, but there are certain situations in which a DUI can be charged as a felony carrying serious, life-altering penalties. If you or a loved one has been arrested for or charged with a California DUI, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our reputable and competent DUI defense attorneys at Sevens Legal, APC today to discuss the best defense strategy for your specific case.

    California DUI Offenses

    In the state of California, it is a crime for drivers 21 years of age or older operating a regular passenger vehicle to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher (0.04% or higher for drivers operating a commercial vehicle). The law governing drunk driving offenses in California is Vehicle Code § 23152 VC, which states the following in its entirety:

    (a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.

    (b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

    (c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle (unless the person is participating in an approved narcotic treatment program).

    (d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

    (e) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

    (f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

    (g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

    Vehicle Code § 23136 VC is California’s “zero tolerance” law governing underage DUI offenses, which states that “it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle.”

    Penalties for a California DUI

    In California, a DUI remains on your record for ten years, and because California DUIs are “priorable” offenses, the criminal penalties increase with each subsequent DUI conviction that takes place within a ten-year period. In other words, a DUI conviction that occurred more than ten years ago no longer counts for the purposes of determining whether a new DUI is a second or subsequent offense. The following are the typical criminal penalties you can expect to face for a DUI offense in California.

    First-Time DUI Offense (Misdemeanor)

    Second-Time DUI Offense Within Ten Years (Misdemeanor)

    • Up to one year in county jail,
    • Misdemeanor probation,
    • Up to $1,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license suspension for two years,
    • 18 or 30 months of DUI school, and/or
    • Installation of an IID.

    Third-Time DUI Offense Within Ten Years (Misdemeanor)

    • Up to one year in county jail,
    • Misdemeanor probation,
    • Up to $1,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license suspension for three years,
    • 30 months of DUI school, and/or
    • Installation of an IID.

    Fourth DUI Offense Within Ten Years (Felony)

    • 16 months, two, three or four years in state prison,
    • Felony probation,
    • Up to $1,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license revocation for four years,
    • 30 months of DUI school, and/or
    • Habitual Traffic Offender designation for three years.

    DUI with Injury (Misdemeanor)

    • Up to one year in county jail,
    • Misdemeanor probation,
    • Up to $5,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license suspension for one year,
    • Three, 18 or 30 months of DUI school,
    • Installation of an IID, and/or
    • Restitution to injured parties.

    DUI with Injury (Felony)

    • Two to four years in state prison (plus one additional consecutive year for each injured person, up to three years, and an additional three to six years if anyone, other than yourself, suffered great bodily injury),
    • Felony probation,
    • Up to $5,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license revocation for five years,
    • 18 or 30 months of DUI school, and/or
    • Restitution to injured parties.

    Felony DUI

    • 16 months, two, three or four years in state prison,
    • Felony probation,
    • Up to $5,000 in fines,
    • Driver’s license revocation for five years, and/or
    • DUI school for 18 or 30 months.

    Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI

    Although first, second and third DUIs are typically charged as misdemeanors in California, there are certain specific situations in which the prosecution can pursue felony DUI charges, even for an offense that would typically be considered a misdemeanor. The main difference between misdemeanor and felony charges is that misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for no more than one year, while felonies are punishable by more than one year in state prison. The following are three situations in which a California DUI may be prosecuted as a felony offense:

    • The defendant has three or more prior DUI convictions within the previous ten years,
    • The defendant has a prior felony DUI conviction, or
    • The alleged DUI resulted in serious bodily injury or death to another person other than the defendant.

    Mitigating and Aggravating Factors

    California law establishes certain sentencing guidelines for defendants convicted of DUI offenses, which means there is a range of penalties that can be imposed on a convicted offender in a DUI case. Judges overseeing DUI cases have a great deal of leeway when determining the appropriate sentence, and there are certain mitigating and aggravating factors that, if applicable to your case, can affect sentencing in a positive or negative way. If you are convicted of a California DUI, your attorney may be able to present certain mitigating factors that reduce your culpability or warrant a more lenient sentence. For instance, if you were impaired because of a medication you were prescribed lawfully, if you voluntarily complete substance abuse treatment after your arrest, or if your BAC was barely above the legal limit of 0.08%, the judge may consider these factors in determining the appropriate sentence. Alternatively, if your California DUI case involves certain aggravating factors, or extenuating circumstances that increase your culpability or the severity of the crime, you could face harsher sentencing upon conviction. For instance, if you had a BAC above 0.15%, if you were speeding or driving recklessly, if you were driving on a suspended license, or if you had a child in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you could face enhanced criminal penalties upon conviction, even if you have no prior DUIs on your record.

    California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law

    The state of California has a “Three Strikes” sentencing law in effect, which is designed to impose significantly more severe prison sentences on offenders convicted of multiple serious or violent felonies. Under this law, if you have one serious or violent felony (a “strike prior”) on your record, and you are convicted of another serious or violent felony, such as felony DUI with injury, you could face double the prison sentence otherwise required by law. If you have two or more strike priors on your record, and you are convicted of a new felony, you could automatically face a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

    Administrative DMV Penalties

    In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a DUI conviction, there are also administrative penalties imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) following a California DUI arrest. Any time you are arrested for DUI in California, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license, pending the outcome of an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing with the DMV. If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you have ten days from the date of your arrest to contact the DMV and schedule your hearing, which will temporarily delay the suspension of your driving privileges. If you hire a DUI defense attorney to represent you in your DMV hearing and you win the hearing, you may be able to retain your driving privileges. If you lose the hearing, you could face the following administrative penalties, which are separate from and in addition to the criminal penalties imposed by the court for a DUI conviction:

    • First DUI Offense – a four-month driver’s license suspension
    • Second DUI Offense Within Ten Years – a one-year driver’s license suspension
    • Third DUI Offense Within Ten Years – a one-year driver’s license suspension
    • Fourth and Subsequent DUI Offenses – a one-year driver’s license suspension

    California’s Implied Consent Law

    Under California’s “implied consent” law, all drivers lawfully arrested for DUI are legally required to submit to a DUI breath or blood test to determine their BAC or the amount of drugs in their system, if any. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test following your California drunk driving arrest, you could face increased administrative penalties imposed by the DMV, including a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first offense, a two-year license revocation for a second offense within ten years, and a three-year license revocation for a third or subsequent offense within ten years. These penalties are separate and in addition to the enhanced criminal penalties you may face if you refuse a chemical test after being lawfully arrested for DUI and you are convicted of the DUI.

    California DUI Expungement

    Some California DUI offenses may qualify for expungement, which is an after-the-fact dismissal of the criminal case that effectively erases the conviction from your record for most purposes. If you qualify, obtaining an expungement can help release you from some of the adverse effects of a DUI conviction, including negative employment consequences. California’s “ban the box” law prohibits employers from asking about arrests or prior criminal convictions on job applications before making a conditional offer of employment. An expungement would mean you would not have to disclose your DUI conviction at all, and if your employer found out about the expunged conviction, he or she would be barred from using it as a basis for making any employment decisions, such as hiring or firing. Keep in mind that even if you are successful in getting your California DUI expunged, the expunged DUI will still count as a prior offense if you are arrested for a subsequent DUI within a ten-year period.

    Contacting a California DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

    California DUIs can result in serious, life-altering penalties, especially those involving repeat offenses or physical injuries, and if you have been arrested for or charged with DUI in California, your first course of action should be to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent your case. Our skilled defense lawyers at Sevens Legal are committed to aggressively protecting the rights of clients charged with drunk driving in California, and we will advocate for your best interests every step of the way, from the moment you hire our firm to the conclusion of your case. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free initial consultation and DUI case evaluation.

    Free California DUI Penalties Consultation in San Diego

    Our Clients Say

    “Samantha Green was great handling my case. She got me from a misdemeanor to a fraction. Im happy with that. She also kept me updated on my case and i never had to call her for an update. I would definitely use her again and recommend her to people.” – Amanda K.

    Read More Testimonials

    At Sevens Legal, APC we pride ourselves on our commitment to prompt responses to our potential clients and clients. Your case is very important to us and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

      FIRST NAME *

      LAST NAME *

      EMAIL ADDRESS *

      PHONE NUMBER *

      HOW CAN WE HELP?