This article covers:
- What a DUI is according to California State Law.
- Some implications a DUI arrest has on your driver’s license.
- Some of the penalties you face if convicted of a DUI.
What Is The Legal Definition Of DUI In California? What Is The Legal Blood Alcohol Concentration Level?
California defines DUIs in Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) & (b). The State can convict you on the (a) count or the (b) count. The (a) count is being under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point where you cannot safely operate a motor vehicle. The (b) count is when you have a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration or higher. You can be convicted of a DUI if authorities can prove either of these.
Their limit is lower if it involves a commercial driver or someone driving a taxi, limo, or Uber. This is laid out in Vehicle Code Section 23152(d). Commercial drivers are only allowed to have a 0.04% blood alcohol concentration to be convicted of a DUI.
The (a) count can be used to convict anyone regardless of the blood alcohol level. If the district attorney can prove that any amount of alcohol adequately impaired you, you can be convicted of a DUI.
What Important Information Do I Need To Know About My Driver’s License After A DUI Arrest And Charge In California? Do I Lose My License Immediately?
DUI convictions trigger license suspension.
If you are convicted of a DUI for the first time, and there was no significant injury, you will receive a 6-month automatic suspension upon conviction. This penalty increases to a year for your second offense and two years for your third. If you cause an injury, you start with a minimum of 6 months. Felony DUIs yield up to a 5-year suspension.
The court can suspend your license, as can the DMV, independent of each other. Then you will have both an administrative hearing with the DMV and a criminal trial with the State. The standards of proof are lower with the DMV. They must only show by a preponderance of the evidence that you operated under the influence. In contrast, the State has to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Happens If I Refuse A Breathalyzer? Can Law Enforcement Make You Take A Blood Test Or A Breathalyzer During A DUI Investigation In Fresno?
You can refuse a breathalyzer in the State of California. If you do, you will have the option of a blood or urine test. Blood tests have benefits – they can be tested and preserved by an independent lab. Breath tests are not preserved; as a result, you cannot leverage testing by an expert and independent verification for your case later if necessary.
The authorities will likely take you to the hospital and perform a compelled draw when there is a fatality. Of course, you can refuse to do this, but the consequences are much starker: your license will automatically be suspended. However, they will be limited to convicting you in the (a) count, not the (b) count. This is because you are not providing evidence that they need to establish the (b) count, the blood alcohol content. This is the (d) count in the case of a commercial driver or the (e) count in the case of a taxi, limo, or Uber driver.
What Are Penalties For DUI Convictions In California? Will I Go To Jail On My First DUI?
You can go to jail for your first DUI in the State of California, potentially six months in county jail. You will also likely have to pay fines and restitution. For your first misdemeanor DUI, you will additionally have your driver’s license suspended for six months. However, you may be able to drive immediately with an exemption for going to work or other necessary travel. Further, you will be required to complete a DUI school.
A second offense can get you up to a year in county jail with fines and restitution. If your license is not suspended for up to two years, it could be restricted with required DUI school.
The consequences of your third offense are up to a year in county jail with fines, restitution, and a license suspension of up to three years. You can apply for a restricted license and a DUI school.
If you are charged with a DUI with an injury and it is a misdemeanor, its consequences are similar. You will spend up to a year in county jail, although your fines go up significantly. You will have to pay restitution to any injured parties. Your driver’s license can be suspended for one to three years because of the injury, and you will have to attend DUI School.
A first-time felony DUI with an injury can land you 16 months to 16 years in state prison. It ultimately depends on your sentence and the injury’s severity. You will be ordered to pay restitution, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of a year, and you will be required to attend DUI school.
If any other felonies are in the picture, you face 16 months of confinement and potentially two or three years in state prison, depending on the offense. You could have your driver’s license suspended again for up to 5 years on the following DUI. There will be more fines, restitution, and required DUI school before getting your driving privileges back.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for DUI Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.