While some states call it a DWI (driving while impaired), California exclusively uses the term “DUI” for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is more than one way to get a DUI.
A first-time DUI in California is a misdemeanor offense that indicates the driver has never received a DUI or has not received one in the last 10 years (called a “look back period”).
If a driver has had one or more DUIs in the last 10 years, their charges will be enhanced, and penalties could be more severe.
A per se DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC) in California is a type of DUI charge that is based solely on a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. This means that if a driver is caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they can be arrested and charged with DUI, even if they are not exhibiting signs of impairment.
A DUI with a high BAC (California Vehicle Code Section 23578 VC) in California is a DUI offense in which the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.15% or higher. This is considered an aggravating factor in DUI cases and can result in more severe penalties.
A felony DUI in California is a more serious type of DUI offense that can result in more severe penalties. There are multiple ways in which a DUI can be considered a felony in California:
It’s also important to know that there is no “washout period” for felony DUIs. When calculating penalties, a washout period is the amount of time a prior DUI conviction is applied to later DUI charges. If you receive a felony DUI, it will always count against you if you receive one in the future.
An underage DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23140 VC) in California is a type of DUI charge that is specifically for drivers under the age of 21. In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher. This means that even if a driver under 21 is not exhibiting any signs of impairment, they can still be arrested and charged with DUI if their BAC is 0.01% or higher.
A commercial CDL DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d) VC) is a type of DUI offense that is specifically for drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In the United States, CDL drivers are held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers when it comes to alcohol use. This is because they are responsible for operating large and potentially dangerous vehicles, such as trucks and buses.
The BAC limit for CDL drivers is 0.04%, which is significantly lower than the 0.08% limit for non-commercial drivers.
The penalties you may face for a DUI in California depend on the facts of the case and your history (whether you’ve had prior DUIs). If there are aggravating factors, such as injury or death, penalties could also be more severe.
You may face up to six months in county jail for a first offense, up to one year in county jail for a second offense, and up to three years in state prison for a third offense.
A felony DUI can result in up to three years in prison. Your penalties may increase if your actions resulted in someone’s death and you are charged with vehicular manslaughter.
You may have to pay up to $2,000 plus penalty assessments for a first offense, up to $3,000 plus penalty assessments for a second offense, and up to $5,000 plus penalty assessments for a third offense. Fines are higher for felony and CDL offenses.
If you are convicted of DUI, you will face a driver’s license suspension of six to 10 months for a first offense, one to three years for a second offense, and three years for a third offense.
If you are convicted of a DUI, you will also likely face: