Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in California that can lead to significant legal and personal consequences. If you are charged with a DUI in California, it is important to understand the potential penalties you may face, both criminal and administrative.
Under California law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI conviction in California can result in:
- Jail time: Depending on the circumstances of the case, a DUI conviction can result in up to six months in jail for a first offense, up to one year in jail for a second offense, and up to three years in jail for a third offense.
- Fines: A DUI conviction can result in fines ranging from $390 to $5,000, depending on the number of prior offenses and other factors.
- License suspension: A DUI conviction can result in a license suspension ranging from four months to three years, depending on the number of prior offenses and other factors.
- Mandatory DUI education program: A DUI conviction can require completion of a DUI education program, ranging from three to 30 months depending on the number of prior offenses and other factors.
- Ignition interlock device (IID): A DUI conviction can require installation of an IID on the offender's vehicle, which requires the driver to pass a breath test before the vehicle can be started. An IID can be required for up to three years for a third offense.
Administrative Consequences with the DMV
In addition to the criminal consequences of a DUI conviction, there are also administrative consequences that can impact your driving privileges. If you are arrested for a DUI in California, your license may be suspended or revoked in two separate proceedings: a criminal proceeding and an administrative proceeding with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The DMV administrative proceeding is separate from the criminal proceeding, and focuses solely on the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. If you are arrested for a DUI in California, the arresting officer will take your license and issue you a temporary license. You then have 10 days to request a DMV administrative hearing to contest the suspension or revocation of your license.
If you do not request a hearing within 10 days, or if you lose the hearing, your license will be suspended or revoked. The length of the suspension or revocation will depend on the circumstances of the case, including your BAC at the time of the arrest and whether you refused to take a chemical test. For a first offense, the DMV may suspend your license for four months, while subsequent offenses can result in longer suspensions or revocations.
A DUI conviction in California can have serious legal and personal consequences, including jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, mandatory DUI education programs, and installation of an IID. In addition, if you are arrested for a DUI in California, you may face a separate administrative proceeding with the DMV that can result in the suspension or revocation of your license. If you are charged with a DUI in California, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.