California DUI laws can have far-reaching consequences that affect your future employment, finances, housing, and freedoms long after you’re stopped and charged.
Familiarizing yourself with California DUI laws can help you prepare for what’s ahead if you’re charged with DUI. Remember, everyone has the right to a defense and you are innocent until proven guilty.
(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
The vehicle code goes on to outline definitions and penalties associated with the crime of driving under the influence.
California DUI Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about DUI and DUI laws in California. For more details on California DUI laws, here’s everything you need to know if you or a loved one has been convicted of DUI in California.
What happens with your license when you get a DUI in California?
If you are arrested for a DUI in California, there are DMV penalties to face as well as criminal – even if you are not convicted of an offense.
You may receive a temporary driver’s license if your official driver’s license is confiscated. If you do not take action within 10 days of your arrest, the DMV will automatically suspend your driving privilege.
An experienced DUI attorney can help preserve your driving privileges by requesting a hearing with the DMV to make a final decision about your license suspension.
This will mean an automatic stay of your license suspension until the DMV hearing. The DMV does not wait for criminal proceedings to go through the courts.
Is jail time mandatory for DUI in California?
Both a misdemeanor and felony DUI may result in jail time but it is not always mandatory. An experienced DUI attorney will have methods to work out a deal so that jail time can be avoided in most cases.
The potential for jail time increases with each conviction – especially within the 10-year “look-back” period – and if there are aggravating factors present, such as:
A blood alcohol content of 0.15 % or higher
Refusing a chemical test
Causing an accident
Underage children inside the vehicle
Under 21-year-old driver
The likelihood of you spending time in jail for DUI also depends on the skills of your defense lawyer when negotiating with the prosecution.
What is considered a felony DUI in California?
DUI is generally treated as a misdemeanor offense in California unless one of the following applies:
The DUI is a fourth offense within 10 years
The driver has a prior felony charge for DUI
The driver causes an accident in which another person is injured or killed
In the above instances, a felony charge may apply.
Do you lose your license for a first DUI in California?
For a first DUI in California, you may receive a driver’s license suspension from four to 10 months. However, this is not a foregone conclusion.
With the help of your lawyer, you may be able to fight the license suspension and retain your driving privileges.
Your lawyer can first help arrange a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest and then fight against a DUI conviction in court (a conviction automatically triggers a six-month license suspension).
Can I get a restricted license after a first-time California DUI?
Since 2019, people charged with DUI in California have been able to continue driving if they successfully apply for a restricted license after 30 days of suspension.
You may also have the option to install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) and suffer minimal license suspension time.
While there is no guarantee that your application will be accepted, your attorney may be able to help you partially restore your driving privileges.
California DUI Class FAQs
Here are some commonly asked questions about DUI classes in California. For more details on DUI classes, here’s everything you need to know.
What is DUI school in California?
DUI classes are commonly conducted in-person and consist of a combination of counseling and education for DUI offenders.
The educational component helps offenders understand the DUI laws in California and how they affect them. It also educates attendees on drug abuse and “problem” drinking and may include lectures, videos, and group discussions.
The counseling component of the course is normally conducted in groups, in addition to one-on-one sessions which are usually required.
Participants must remain sober during classes and actively participate in any one-on-one sessions. Failure to do so may result in expulsion from the program.
Who is required to take DUI classes in California?
Everyone convicted of the following driving offenses in California must participate in DUI school:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
Driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.08 percent or higher
Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.05 percent or higher
“Wet reckless” charge (often negotiated as a plea bargain from DUI charges)
Any other alcohol or drug-related driving offense in California
You will also need to attend if you pleaded guilty or “nolo contendere” (no contest) to any of the above charges as opposed to being convicted at trial by a jury.
How long are DUI programs in California?
DUI programs run anywhere from 12 hours to 30 months in California. The duration of your participation will depend upon the nature of your driving offense, your Blood Alcohol Content, and which county you are arrested and subsequently convicted in.
How much are DUI classes and who pays?
Offenders are asked to pay these costs out of their own pockets – including an initial down-payment when they enroll in the course. DUI classes can costs anywhere from $200 to $3000+, depending on your program duration.
If you do not have the means to fund your program, you can apply for a fee waiver or a fee reduction from some of the providers.
Who runs DUI classes in California?
There are over 200 providers of DUI classes around California, so you can expect programs and costs to vary significantly.
Typically, DUI school programs are based entirely on in-person sessions and there is no option to complete the course online. However, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, some schools have been allowing for attendance over the internet, since in-person meetings have not been possible. This is a very uncommon exception being made for a global emergency, so it will not likely be a permanent change.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) FAQs
Here are some commonly asked questions about Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in California. For more details on IID, here’s everything you need to know.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
An ignition interlock device is a compact “car breathalyzer”.
If you are convicted of alcohol, drug, or a combination of drug and alcohol DUI, you may be required to install the IID. You must install this device on every vehicle you own or have access to drive (except for employer-owned vehicles). If you comply, you may drive anytime or anywhere without additional restrictions.
How much does an Ignition Interlock Device cost?
The costs may include on average:
An installation fee (often around $75-$100);
Monthly maintenance and calibration fee ($2-3 per day, generally);
A removal fee at the end of the required period (again around $75-$100).
How long after drinking does it take to pass an IID test?
Starting your vehicle with an IID depends on how much alcohol you have consumed prior to the test. It is possible that alcohol consumed the night before can register on an IID the next day, which would prevent you from starting your vehicle and thereafter driving legally.
Have you or a loved one been charged with DUI in California?
If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI in Orange County, you need an experienced DUI attorney to protect your rights and freedoms and limit the consequences.
Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian at (855) 918-4253 today to set up a consultation with an attorney who can advise you on the next steps in protecting your rights.
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