State Laws

California DUI Laws


It's a pretty safe bet that at closing hour of any bar, you might find one or two customers debating whether or not they should drive home. If it has reached the point where someone needs to ask, it's better to just call a cab.

Some folks try to rationalize whether or not they are drunk based on the amount of food they had and the number of drinks they consumed. All the math in the world won't save you in California if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. That is the legal definition of driving under the influence and the courts really don't want to hear that you can "handle your liquor."

DUI arrests are treated very seriously in California as they are in the rest of the country. As a result, you can face some extremely seriously consequences if convicted of a DUI offense. No matter how many times you've been convicted of a DUI in California, you'll be required to carry a SR22 restricted driver insurance policy. The SR22 policy comes with more expensive premiums and rigorous follow up inspections.

California DUI Convictions
A first time DUI conviction can land you in jail for anywhere between four days and six months. You can be fined up to $1,000 and forced to complete a state certified DUI driving program. Your license will be suspended for six months. With a second DUI conviction that occurs within 10 years of the first offense, the jail times increase to ninety days up to one year. The fine can still be $1,000 but the license suspension goes up to one year.

For a third DUI conviction the possible time behind bars becomes 120 days to one year with a two year license suspension. You may also be forced to apply for a restricted driver's license. With this type of license you'll be mandated to install an ignition interlock device which prevents the driver from being able to start the car if there is any alcohol in their blood system.

If a fourth DUI conviction happens within 10 years of the other convictions then you can expect to spend at least 180 days in jail and have your license suspended for four years.

California Underage DUI Laws
There are many restrictions for California drivers who are under the legal drinking age. If you are under 21 you are not allowed to drive alone with any kind of liquor in your car. The legal BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .01 or higher. There is a zero tolerance law in place for drivers under the age of 18. This means for them that any BAC level can lead to a DUI conviction.

California Zero Tolerance for Repeat Offenders
California's zero tolerance laws extend to repeat offenders. If a person is on prohibition for a DUI conviction and is arrested once again for driving under the influence then their BAC only needs to be .01 or higher. That's basically what you would get with one beer and that can mean an automatic second or third DUI conviction with all the penalties they would carry.

See also:
California Gun Laws
California Bankruptcy
California Divorce
Proposition 36 (California) External link (opens in new window)
California Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
Summit Defense External link (opens in new window)