Drunk Driving Penalties in California

The Dire Consequences of Driving Under the Influence

If you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in California you could face a number of consequences. The penalties increase it was your second or subsequent offense, your BAC was over .15 percent, or you injured or killed someone as a result of a DUI-related accident.

California has several vehicle code violations that apply to driving under the influence. The two basic code sections are California Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and (b). CVC 23152 (a) states that it unlawful to drive under the influence of alcohol and CVC 23152 (b) makes it unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. Pursuant to CVC 23152 (a), you can still be charged with a DUI if you have a BAC under .08 percent. 

If you are convicted of driving under the influence in California you can face up to six months in jail. Depending on the jurisdiction, your sentencing may include jail alternatives, however, if it is your second or subsequent conviction or you injure or kill someone it is significantly more likely that you will have to serve actual jail time. It is important to consult with a DUI defense attorney immediately after an arrest for drunk driving.

In addition to jail time, you could face a minimum fine of $390 plus penalty assessments. Penalty assessments make the fine substantially higher and are the majority of the fine, making the actual fine closer to $1,800 to $2,000.

A DUI conviction may also cost you your license. Even just an arrest for drunk driving could cause you to lose your driving privileges. Hiring an attorney within 10 days of your arrest will allow you to request an administrative per se (APS) hearing, which will determine whether your license should be suspended based on the arrest. A conviction will also trigger a license suspension. You may be able to obtain a restricted license with the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).

Other penalties may include mandatory completion of an alcohol/DUI program, attending a MADD Victim Impact Panel, AA meetings, and summary (informal) probation. The stakes are high. Find out how a continuous alcohol monitoring device like the SCRAM CAM device can help pre- or post-conviction.