Understanding California DUI penalties
- posted: Nov. 14, 2021
When a California driver receives a conviction for driving under the influence, he or she is subject to minimum base penalties. However, some convictions have extenuating circumstances that result in more significant legal consequences, including potential jail time, fines and license suspension.
Read on to learn more about the base penalties for California DUI.
Initial DUI conviction
To receive a DUI charge in California, you must have a measured blood alcohol content of at least .01% if you are younger than 18, at least .04% if you have a commercial license and at least .08% for all other drivers. You can also receive a charge if an officer has reason to believe you have taken drugs or alcohol before driving. Penalties for a first-time DUI may include 30 to 60 hours of mandatory alcohol education, a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours or probation, a $390 base fine plus thousands in court fees, and license revocation for six months.
Additional DUI charges
California imposes enhanced legal penalties for subsequent DUIs within 10 years of an initial DUI. For a second DUI, the court may require 18 months of mandatory alcohol education, a minimum jail sentence of 96 hours or three years probation, a $390 base fine plus thousands in court fees, and license revocation for two years with a mandatory ignition interlock device upon reinstatement at your own expense.
With a third DUI, you will receive a three-year license suspension and you will be subject to an IID requirement upon reinstatement. You must serve at least 120 hours in jail or three years probation and 30 months of alcohol education. Fines are the same as with earlier DUI charges.
Although California considers drunk driving a misdemeanor charge, the court will upgrade your charge to a felony if you caused an accident that killed or injured another person while driving impaired. This charge carries at least one year in prison and an additional $1,000 fine on top of your base DUI penalties.