California DUI Laws

california dui lawsBeing charged or arrested for a DUI can be a scary situation.  This blogpost will provide a general overview of the consequences in regards to the DMV and criminal court.

California DMV

So you have been arrested for a DUI.  Being arrested for a DUI in California will immediately suspend or revoke your driver license.  At the time of the arrest, a police officer will forward a notice of suspension or revocation to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  The DMV will conduct an administrative review.  This review will examine the police officer’s report, the notice order, and any test results, like a documented blood alcohol test.

The administrative review will rule to either upheld or dismiss the suspension or revocation.  If the notice is upheld, you may request a hearing to contest.  The right to request a hearing is available for 10 days within receipt of a suspension or revocation order.

In some instances, police officer may issue an order of suspension and a temporary license.  This allows a person to drive for 30 days from the date of the order of suspension or revocation, if you have a California driver license and your driver license is not expired or suspended or revoked for some other reason.

If you are 21 years or older and took a blood or breath test with the results showing a 0.08% blood alcohol content or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for 4 months.  A second or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 1-year suspension.

For those under 21 who had a test show a 0.01% blood alcohol content or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year.

Blood alcohol tests or chemical tests, are required by law in California. If you do not submit or complete a blood or alcohol test when the police officer requested, your license can be suspended.  If you are 21 and refuse the test, the first offense will result in a 1-year suspension.  A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a  3-year revocation.

If you were under 21 at the time and refused to submit a test, the same penalties and timelines apply as you are if you were 21 or older.

California Criminal Court

Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle in California “under the influence” of alcohol. While the typical “under the influence” means testing above an 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, in California drivers can still be prosecuted for a DUI even if their BAC was under 0.08%.

First, second, and third offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors in California.  Consequences an include probation, fines, DUI school, suspension of a license, and installing an ignition interlock device.

Fines can range from $300 – $1,000 plus other “penalty assessments” that can vary, making the total charge several thousand dollars potentially.

Criminal suspensions tend to be for six-month durations.  This is different than the suspension discussed above in the DMV section, however many times the courts allow these suspensions to overlap, depending on the circumstances. Probation can often last for three years, but can go up to almost five years.

Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties require first offenders to install ignition interlock devices for five months in their vehicles.  In all other counties, it is at the judge’s discretion.  An ignition interlock device can be installed for up to three years.

This is only a broad overview of consequences.  Hiring a lawyer is crucial step to ensure your case is handled fairly.  Click here for information on our experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyers.