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Your Guide to Possible DUI Penalties and How to Avoid Them


Driving under the influence impairs your ability to make timely judgments and turns you into a threat on the road. Getting a DUI in the state of California carries very serious consequences. The penalties for a DUI depend on two main factors: whether you have prior DUIs and whether anyone was seriously injured as the result of the accident.

As stated in Vehicle Code 23152 it is a crime to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The majority of DUI cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors. A DUI only gets charged as a felony if you have four or more prior DUIs or if someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of it. If you were involved in a DUI accident in California, contact the DUI attorneys at Fight My Ticket today for a free consultation. Fill out the form or call us at 1-800-655-7505.

In California, all it takes to get a DUI is a blood alcohol content of 0.08 % or higher. In order to prove a DUI case, the prosecutor must prove that you were under the influence of alcohol while driving a motor vehicle. For example, if you were simply sitting in your car and not driving at the time then you are not guilty of driving under the influence. 

California has a different set of penalties for first, second and third time offenders, which makes DUI law a bit more complicated. A DUI offense counts for up to 10 years, meaning if you get another DUI 7 years after your first one, it will count as a second DUI.

Penalties For A First DUI Conviction

A first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor with these potential penalties:

  • From $390 to a $1000 in fines, as well as possible additional fees.
  • A minimum 4-month license suspension. 
  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • Alcohol treatment program.

Keep in mind, these are the minimum penalties.

Penalties For A Second DUI Conviction

A second DUI is a misdemeanor with these potential penalties: 

  • From $390 to a $1000 in fines, as well as possible additional fees.
  • A 1-year license suspension.
  • Up to 1 year in jail. 
  • Long-term alcohol treatment.

Penalties For a Third DUI Conviction

  • From $390 to a $1000 in fines, as well as possible additional fees. 
  • 3-year license revocation.
  • 120 days to 1 year in jail. 
  • Long-term alcohol treatment.

You many also be placed on probation after any of these convictions. 

DUIs Involving Serious Injuries or Death

If you end up injuring someone in a DUI accident you will be facing harsher penalties. 

Penalties For a Felony DUI 

  • From $390 to a $1000 in fines, as well as possible additional fees.
  • 16 months to 3 years in state prison.
  • Up to 5 years of driver’s license suspension.

Refusing A Breath Test

When you are arrested for a DUI the arresting officer will ask you to take a blood alcohol test. Even though the officer will ask you to take it, it doesn’t mean that this test is optional. Refusing to take a blood alcohol test is illegal and adds on an additional $125 fine as well as one to three years of additional license suspension. Refusing the test will not help your case because you can still be arrested for a DUI even without it. And in fact, it can make your case worse.

The three most common tests are:

  • A breathalyzer: during this test you will be asked to blow into a machine which will calculate your level of intoxication.
  • A blood test: this test requires a blood sample and will be administered at a hospital. 
  • A urine test: this test is typically administered if there is a suspicion that you were also doing drugs.

Am I Going To Lose My Driver’s License?

Being convicted of a DUI in California means that you are going to lose your license for at least a period of time. The length of time depends on the details of your case.

Here are the main types of driver’s license suspension:

  • License Restriction: a restriction means that you can drive to and from work and your alcohol treatment program. If it’s a first time DUI a restriction is required for a minimum of two months.
  • The “Administrative Suspension”: the DMV will automatically suspend your license 30 days after your arrest. 
  • Full Suspension: a full suspension means all your driving privileges are revoked. For a first time DUI you will get a minimum of two months.

Having a DUI attorney on your side means they can work on your defense so that you can avoid the penalty of losing your license. In order to fight an automatic suspension you will need to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. 

DUI with Legal and Illegal Drugs

Getting a DUI when you’re in possession of illegal drugs will get you the same penalties, but you might also be charged with drug possession. However, a positive drug test does not constitute possession. You have to have drugs in your car in order to be charged with possession. Driving while under the influence of legal drugs can also land you a DUI if they made you impaired. 

How A California DUI Attorney Can Defend You

An experienced DUI attorney can spot weak spots in the evidence against you and use them in order to help your case. The most frequent evidence used in DUI cases are: erratic driving patterns, failed sobriety tests, failed breathalyzer tests, intoxicated behavior after being pulled over, and the statements you make. A good attorney can raise issues with this evidence and get evidence thrown out in order to get you the best possible outcome. A good DUI attorney will put into question every aspect of the DUI investigation: from police procedure to the validity of the blood alcohol level test.

Contact A California DUI Attorney

California DUI law is complex and depends on various factors, such as the amount of alcohol in your system, whether the DUI resulted in an injury or death and other factors. If you have been charged with a DUI, a lot is on the line: your freedom, your driving privileges, your reputation not to even mention your finances. We strongly advise that you speak with a DUI attorney to discuss your case. Even if you can’t get the charges dropped entirely, you have a shot at getting reduced charges if your lawyer can negotiate a good deal for you. Contact the California DUI attorneys at Fight My Ticket today for a free consultation. Fill out the form or call us at 1-800-655-7505.

Ticket Fighting 101 Guides by Fight My Ticket

Fight My Ticket brings quick, easy, and inexpensive legal service to traffic ticket clients. With over 20 years of experience, our lawyers have successfully defended individuals, celebrities and well-known executives against all types of charges. Our lawyers represent both in-state and out-of-state motorists cited with traffic violations across Southern California.

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