California DUI Penalties

Examining California’s DUI Laws

In the state of California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

This means that you could face serious legal consequences if you are found guilty of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.

Since lawmakers in California also uphold a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers, you could be convicted of a DUI offense if you were found guilty of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .01% as an individual under the age of 21. There are several different methods that law enforcement will utilize to determine a suspected drunk driver’s level of intoxication—including blood, breath, urine and field sobriety tests—and failing any one of them could put you at risk of a conviction. For this reason, we recommend that you contact a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney if you have been arrested for driving under the influence.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd & 3rd DUI Conviction in Northern California

In the event that you are convicted of a DUI offense, you could face a number of potential penalties and other enhancements—ranging from jail time to the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). For this reason, you should move quickly to get in touch with an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as you have been arrested and charged with a crime especially with the 10 day rule.

Some of the legal penalties that you could be facing include:

First DUI Offense – Informal probation for 3 to 5 years, up to 6 months in county jail, fines are substantial and subject to change, enrollment in a 3 to 9 month alcohol education program and a 6 to 10 month driver’s license suspension.

Second DUI Offense – Informal probation for 3 to 5 years, 96 hours to 1 year in county jail, fines are substantial and subject to change, enrollment in an 18 to 30 month alcohol education program and a two year driver’s license suspension.

Third DUI Offense – Informal probation for 3 to 5 years, 120 days to 1 year in county jail, fines are substantial and subject to change, enrollment in a 30 month alcohol education program and a three years driver’s license revocation.

*Each county’s fines and these laws are subject to change.*

After being convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years, the offender will also be labeled a “habitual traffic offender” (HTO) by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Should they be convicted of a subsequent DUI offense within this same time frame, the charges would be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony—thus resulting in even stricter penalties and the likelihood of a prison sentence versus county jail.

Penalties for an Underage DUI Conviction in Northern California

California takes a “zero tolerance” approach to punishing underage DUI offenders. This means that you could face serious ramifications for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .01% or greater. As long as this does not exceed .05%, however, you would only be charged with a civil offense—which would subsequently result in the automatic suspension of your license for one year or a one-year delay in obtaining your license if you do not yet have one. If your BAC is measured at .05% – .07%, the offense could be charged as an infraction. The resulting penalties would include a $100 fine for a first offense, a $200 fine for a second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense—in addition to the aforementioned penalties of violating California’s “zero tolerance” laws. If your BAC is measured at .08% or greater, you would face the same penalties as a driver who is 21 or older.

Penalties for a Felony / Aggravated DUI Conviction in Northern California

In the state of California, a DUI offense could be charged as a felony under a few different circumstances. If, for example, you were found guilty of your fourth DUI offense within 10 years, the charges would be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. Similarly, you could face felony charges if you were involved in an alcohol-related accident in which someone other than yourself was injured.

If you are convicted of “Felony DUI with Injury,” you could face 16 months to 10 years in state prison, a possible strike on your criminal record, a $1,015 to $5,000 fine, enrollment in an alcohol education program for 18 to 30 months and mandatory restitution to the injured party. For a felony DUI not involving injury, you could face 16 months to 3 years in state prison, $390 to $1,000 in fines and the revocation of your license for 4 years.

Facing a DUI Conviction? Find out how Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC can help!

If you have recently been charged with drunk driving in California, it is imperative that you act quickly.

By enlisting the help of a Santa Rosa DUI attorney as soon as possible you will have given yourself a leg up and the ample time necessary to build a strong winning defense in your favor.

Your legal counsel will be able to conduct a thorough investigation of your case, examine evidence and challenge any inconsistencies, so do not attempt to undergo this process alone.

Our legal team can offer you more than two decades of experience, so we encourage you to let us assist with your defense.

Please call our office today at (707) 571-8600 in our centrally located Santa Rosa office in Sonoma County or call our office in San Rafael in Marin County at (415) 492-4507 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation