Avoid a Life-Changing Mistake: Know Your California DUI Laws

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense in California, carrying serious legal consequences if you’re convicted. The state’s strict DUI laws are designed to deter drunk driving and protect people from the dangers of drinking drivers. If you’re arrested, do you know the potential penalties you may face if you’re charged with a DUI?

What does DUI stand for?

DUI = Driving Under the Influence, which includes both drunk driving and drugged driving. In California, drunk driving is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. If you are under the legal drinking age of 21, the state’s zero-tolerance law requires you to have a BAC of 0%. With suspicion of Drugged driving, officers can test for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside, and screen for other drugs – including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin – at a police station.

Field Sobriety & Chemical Tests

If a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, they will ask you to perform a field sobriety test. The tests include walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or the eye tracking test. The field sobriety test is not legally required but in California, you are required to submit to a blood alcohol level test if you are arrested for DUI. Refusing to take the test can result in an automatic one-year license suspension, even if you are ultimately found not guilty of the DUI charge.

Penalties for DUI Conviction

The penalties for sever and can include fines, jail time, license suspension, and mandatory DUI classes. The specific penalties will depend on your blood alcohol level, how many times you’ve had a DUI conviction, and the circumstances of your arrest.

  • Fines
    Fines for a first-time DUI conviction can range from $390 to $1,000, plus additional fees and assessments. Repeat offenders may face higher fines.
  • Jail Time
    Jail time for a DUI conviction can range from 48 hours to six months, depending on your BAC level and prior convictions. Repeat offenders may face longer jail sentences.
  • License Suspension
    If convicted of a DUI, you may have your license suspended for up to 10 months. Repeat offenders may face longer license suspensions.
  • DUI Classes
    If convicted of a DUI, you will be required to attend a state-approved DUI class. These classes are designed to educate drivers about the dangers of drunk driving and help them make safer decisions in the future.

Defending Against a DUI Charge

If you have been charged with a DUI in California, you should immediately look for an experienced DUI attorney, He or she can provide you with a strong defense, challenge the evidence against you, and work to decrease or dismiss the charges.


California’s strict DUI laws are designed to protect the public from the dangers of impaired drivers. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to understand your rights and the potential consequences you may face. By working with an experienced DUI attorney, you can build a strong defense and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

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Julie Gallaher

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