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California DUI Laws

California DUI laws. Drunk driving in the state of California.

California DUI Laws


California, like most state, has what is referred to as an implied consent law. By participating in driving a motorized vehicle on California roads, you are agreeing to submit yourself to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine if you are driving under the influence (DUI). Refusal to be tested can result in a suspended license for six months to one year. The influence can be drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two which includes inhalants. California takes DUI offenses very seriously. All penalties will include the interlock device on your vehicle, assessments, fees, and fines to the tune of thousands of dollars. There is a zero tolerance policy in place for under age drinkers with the drinking age set at 21.

It is considered a crime in California to operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Sentences are more severe for persons found to have a BAC of 0.15% or more. The “Per Se” BAC does not need any other proof of intoxication other than the 0.08% level for you to be convicted. The enhanced penalties applied to individuals with 0.15 to 0.20%will include more jail time, harsher fines, and driver’s license sanctions.

Recent bills passed make it illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a DUI and is on probation to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% or more. The individual will face more penalties if caught breaking their probation. The BAC level has also been lowered for imposing the installation of ignition interlock device (IID) system on all vehicles owned by the person receiving the DUI. They are not allowed to drive vehicles where the device has not been installed.

The law states that drivers under 21 may not have beer, wine, or liquor of any type in their vehicle if they are driving alone with out a legal adult. Their BAC may not be 0.01% or more. Any driver under 21 will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol including cough syrup and prescription medications. DUI’s will be issued to 18 year olds or younger individuals with any measurable BAC at all, persons over 21 with a BAC of 0.08% and commercial drivers with a BAC of 0.04% or more. Individuals who repeat the drunk driving offense will be arrested for a BAC of 0.01% or more.

Under 21


Under aged drinkers must take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) or a chemical test if requested by a police officer. If their BAC is 0.01% or higher, they may be asked to hand over their license to the officer and the officer will give them a temporary license for 30 days. They may have their license suspended for up to one year. The arresting officer can do one of three things. He may let the individual go, take them to the juvenile authorities, or call their parents. The individual does have the right to ask for a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of the stop.

If the BAC is 0.05% or above, they may be asked to take a second test. They cannot refuse the second test and call a lawyer first. They must submit to the Blood or breath test. If the second test comes back a 0.05% or more, the license will be suspended, they will be arrested and turned over to their parents or juvenile detention. If the BAC is 0.08% or more they will be arrested. Refusal to take the tests will result in the loss of your driving privileges.

Penalties for DUI Arrests


The first conviction will result in 96 hours to 6 months of jail time and $390.00 to $1,000.00 in fines. Your license will also be suspended for 6 months. You will have to complete a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Program, install the IID in your car, and obtain proof of Financial Responsibility (SR-22) before you license will be reinstated.

The second offense within 10 years of the first will result in 90 days to 1 year of jail time, fines between $390 and $1,000.00 and a license suspension of 2 years. You will have to apply for a restricted license with the IID installed on your vehicle, complete a DUI Program and obtain an SR-22 to get the restricted license.

The third offence within 10 years of the first will result in 120 days to 1 year of jail time, fines between $390 and $1,000.00 and a license suspension of 3 years. You will have to wait out one year of your suspended license before you can apply for a restricted license with the IID installed on your vehicle, complete a DUI Program and obtain an SR-22 to get the restricted license. You are now considered to be a habitual offender.

The fourth offence within 10 years of the first will result in 180 days to 1 year of jail time or prison, fines between $390 and $1,000.00 and a license suspension of 4 years. You will have to wait out one year of your suspended license before you can apply for a restricted license with the IID installed on your vehicle, complete a DUI Program and obtain an SR-22 to get the restricted license.