Per California driving laws, motorists will be subject to harsh penalties if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The severity of CA DUI consequences that follow drunk driving infractions usually depend on several factors, including the offender’s age and the number of prior offenses on his or her driving record.

Drivers charged with a DUI can hire an experienced lawyer for the purposes of reducing their punishments as much as possible. Learn more about the negative consequences of driving under the influence in California in the following sections.

DUI Citations and Convictions in California

A California DWI ticket will be issued to drivers who have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer for driving while under the influence. Note that the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is authorized to suspend or revoke your official California driver’s license for a DUI, in addition to any separate action taken by the presiding court.

California Under the Influence Violations and Penalties

Consequences that follow DUI offenses may differ based on several factors, such as a motorists’ age, prior drunk driving infractions, the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) determined at the time of testing and more. The seriousness of the DUI penalties in California will also depend on whether they were ordered by the CA DMV or the presiding court.

Motorists who are found guilty in court generally incur more rigorous punishments, including steep fines and jail sentences in addition to license suspensions or revocations.

First DUI Offense

If you are arrested for a DUI offense in CA for the first time, your license may be taken away by the arresting officer. This same officer will also issue an order of administrative suspension which will include a temporary driving license for 30 days. Motorists convicted of a first DUI due to excessive BAC levels may face separate court-ordered punishments including:

  • Drunk driving fines between $390 and $1,000.
  • A jail sentence of up to six months.
  • Vehicle impoundment.

In addition to this, drivers will have their license suspended for a period of six months, be required to enroll into a DUI program and submit proof of financial responsibility. Note that drivers with a BAC higher than .15, underage motorists and motorists who refuse to submit to a chemical test may face even harsher administrative and court penalties and longer suspension periods.

Second DUI Offense

Getting a DUI in California for the second time generally results in harsher penalties. Drivers with a second DUI conviction or any subsequent infraction on their driving report may incur a license suspension of two years or a revocation of up to four years. Note that you may also be obliged to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle in addition to other requirements.

Drinking and Driving in California

California DUI and DWI offenses are taken very seriously due to the potential damage impaired drivers can cause to other drivers and themselves. Motorists caught driving while intoxicated will be subject to strict drunk driving charges and penalties, as they are more likely to cause an accident resulting in injuries or death.

California DUI Attorneys

The process of hiring an experienced drunk driving attorney in California is usually completed by drivers who are at risk of incurring tough sentences if convicted. Obtaining the services of a legal representative who is an expert in DUI cases is highly recommended, especially in the cases where you are facing multiple DUI charges.

Even though your attorney may not be able to help you avoid your charges completely, he or she will still be able to negotiate lesser fines and other penalties on your behalf.

Hiring a DUI Attorney in California

Drivers seeking DUI help must take into consideration several factors, such as a lawyers professional background and his or her knowledge of state and local DUI laws. Prior to hiring a DUI defense attorney, consider inspecting the credentials of several candidates, as to ensure you hire one that is most suitable for your circumstances.

California Open Container Laws

Under California drunk driving laws, you are also prohibited from carrying an open container of alcohol while driving on public roads or highways. In order to stay in accordance with state DUI laws and avoid being charged with a DUI, your alcoholic beverages must be full, unopened and placed out of reach. The open container law does not apply to passengers riding in a bus, taxi, camper or motor home.

Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in California

It is a standard procedure for state agencies to suspend the license of motorists in violation of the laws pertaining to drunk driving. Adult drivers may be suspended for a period of four months by the state DMV, or six months if convicted in court for a first DUI due to high BAC.

Motorists younger than 21 years of age may lose their credential for one year if their BAC measures .01 percent or higher on a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). To reinstate their a suspended license issued by the CA DMV, drivers will need to do the following:

  • Provide proof of financial responsibility.
  • Maintain proof of financial responsibility for a period of three years.
  • Provide payment for the applicable reissue fees to the

Motorists with a DWI conviction on their record may be required to complete additional court-imposed criteria, such as enrolling into a DUI program and installing an IID prior to submitting applying for a driver’s license restoration.

California Alcohol Awareness Classes

Those looking to reinstate their driving privileges often need to participate in an approved DUI program. Motorists attending DUI classes are expected to learn more about the detrimental effects of alcohol and drugs and state driving laws.

To check whether there is an option for completing California DUI classes online, contact a nearby CA DMV office or the corresponding court. You may also complete this requirement by enrolling into a traffic school course that offers similar insight into state laws and the dangers of drunk driving.

California SR-22 Insurance

Providing California insurance after DUI offenses is a mandatory step to finalize your reinstatement procedure. DUI insurance may be submitted in the form of a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) and it must be maintained for a specific period of time. Failure to file proof of the necessary insurance and maintain it as required may lead to further penalties.

California Laws That Pertain to DUIs

Per DUI laws, it is illegal to drive with high BAC levels. Severe DUI charges will be brought against drivers 21 years of age or older whose test show a BAC of .08 percent or more. Commercial driver’s license holders will be subject to harsh penalties for a BAC of .04 or higher.

Those under probation cannot exceed a BAC level of .01 on a breathalyzer test. Finally, drivers younger than 21 years of age will be charged with an underage DUI if they operate a vehicle with a BAC as low as .01 percent. Tough punishments will also apply to drivers who refuse to undergo a mandatory chemical testing for the purposes of determining their BAC level.

Refusal to take a PAS or other chemical test for the first time while on probation, for instance, will result in a two-year driving license revocation.

Hardship License in California

If your license has been suspended, you may still be able to obtain a hardship, or restricted credential in order to drive to and from work or a DUI program. Prior to applying for a restricted license, however, you must ensure you are eligible for the credential. In general, eligible drivers are:

  • Motorists 21 years of age or older who have been charged with a DUI for the first time.
  • Those who have enrolled into a DUI program.
  • Those who have filed an SR-22 form.
  • Motorists who have arranged payment for the applicable restriction and reissue fees.

Note that other requirements may apply as well. If you are considered a traffic safety risk due to having multiple DUI offenses, you may not be granted a restricted driver’s license.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.