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  • Tim Prentiss

A Guide to DUI Laws in California

Whether or not you have been convicted of a DUI, it is important to be aware of the DUI laws in California. Here is everything you need to know.


Millions of people face DUI convictions every year after getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Every state has laws in place to prevent driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In California, these laws may be slightly different than they are in other states.


Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about DUI laws in California and how this DUI attorney in Sacramento can help you.


What Are the DUI Laws in California?


There are two main laws in regards to adults and DUIs in California that you need to be aware of. Vehicle Code 23152 (a) VC forbids driving while under the influence of any type of alcoholic beverage. Vehicle Code 23152 (b) VC states that driving with a BAC of .08% or higher is against the law. Driving Under the Influence is a very serious violation of the law in California.


What Are the Penalties for DUI?


The penalties for DUI charges are greatly influenced by any prior DUIs and whether or not anyone was injured as a result of this reckless behavior. Most of the possible DUI charges are misdemeanors, but they can become felonies if anyone gets injured or killed in a DUI accident.


There are also certain factors that may worsen your conviction:

  • BAC over .15%

  • Refusing a chemical test

  • Causing an accident

  • Speeding while under the influence

  • Endangering the welfare of a child under 14

  • Being under 21 years old

Convictions get worse with each offense over the span of ten years. This is known as a washout or lookback. It also includes "wet reckless" convictions and out-of-state convictions.


First Offense, Misdemeanor


In California, the punishment for a first-offense DUI can include:

  • Up to six months in jail

  • A fine of between $390 and $1,000

  • Three to five years of probation

  • Three or nine months in DUI school

When you get charged with a DUI, you can expect to end up with an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for five months following a one-month suspension. If you don't get the option for IID, you may lose your license for anywhere between six and ten months.


Second Offense, Misdemeanor


The second DUI offense punishment is similar to the first offense with harsher penalties. It will include:

  • Jail sentence (min. of 96 hours and a max. of one year)

  • $390 and $1,000 fine

  • Three to five years probation

  • 18 or 30 hours of DUI school

When you get charged with a DUI, you will have a one-year suspension where you can continue to drive with the IID in place. If you refuse to use the IID, you will get stuck with a two-year suspension without any driving privileges.


Third Offense, Misdemeanor


The punishment for a third DUI offense is even harsher than the first and second offenses:

  • 120 days to one year in jail

  • $390 to $1,000 fine

  • Two-year IID restrictions, three years without

  • Five years on probation

  • 18 months in DUI school

DUI With Injury, Misdemeanor


The DUI charge that includes an injured victim means that you might be facing:

  • Significant Jail

  • $390 to $5,000 in fines, plus restitution

  • 3, 18, or 30 months in DUI school

  • Three to five years on probation

With this offense, you will be facing 6 months with an IID restricting your driving privileges.


First Offense With Injury, Felony


When injuries are included in your first offense, the charges become a felony. Your penalty for this offense might include:

  • Significant Prison

  • $1,015 to $5,000 in fines, plus restitution

  • 18 to 30 months DUI school

Driving privileges for this offense are revoked for one year though you will still be able to drive with an IID in place. Also, California has a three-strike law. If someone is killed, this type of driving violation can include a strike on your record.


Felony DUI


A felony DUI charge has a similar punishment to the rest of the offenses, including:

  • 16 months to two or three years in state prison

  • $390 to $1,000 in fines

  • Up to five years of license suspension

  • 18 to 30 months in DUI school

Probation Conditions & Violations


There are conditions to probation following a DUI charge. You are not allowed to get behind the wheel with any alcohol in your system. You cannot refuse to submit to the chemical testing for BAC. You must avoid committing additional crimes while on probation.


There are also certain requirements that you must meet to remain on probation when it involves a DUI. You must go to AA or NA. You will take part in Mother's Against Drunk Driving's Victims Impact Program. You will also pay restitution to anyone you hurt while driving under the influence.


Violating your DUI probation can lead to several things happening. The judge can decide to let you remain on your current probationary period. However, they might also tack on additional consequences or send you back to jail for the rest of your sentence.


How Can a DUI Attorney Help You?


You only have 10 days following the DUI arrest to request a hearing with the California DMV. If you would like to fight your DUI charges, you need to act quickly. Prentiss Law knows the ins and outs of California law and can handle everything for you.


A lawyer that focuses in DUI charges will know about the alternative sentences available to you. You can end up serving out your sentence through community service, house arrest, Cal-Trans roadside work, sober-living in a facility, or other alternatives to actual time behind bars.


The right DUI lawyer in Redding will also fight to get you a less severe conviction. At Prentiss Law, we will work diligently to gather evidence, do legal research, file motions, and handle negotiations on your behalf.


DUI Lawyer Redding


Knowing the DUI laws in California may help you avoid making mistakes that can affect your entire life. However, people are only human. They make mistakes. If you find yourself in trouble with the law after getting behind the wheel while you were intoxicated, you may need some legal help to get out of it.


Contact Prentiss Law today to get legal help in regards to your DUI case. We are waiting to hear from you!