California takes driving under the influence (DUI) quite seriously. People who are convicted of a DUI face potential jail time even on their first offense, and follow-up convictions are punished severely. Bakersfield DUI lawyers face an uphill challenge when defending clients from any type of DUI charge.

Legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in California

California DUI laws place the same BAC limit on drivers as most other states in the country. Drivers of passenger vehicles are limited to a BAC of 0.08%, while commercial vehicle drivers are limited to 0.04%. If the driver of a vehicle is under 21 years old, California Zero Tolerance regulations kick in, limiting the BAC to 0.01%.

California also sets the high BAC DUI limit at 0.20%. This limit doesn’t change what a person is charged with but does change the penalties they will face.

Implied Consent Laws in California

Like most states, California has an implied consent law. This law requires drivers to consent to a blood or breath test when a police officer suspects they have been driving under the influence. While a driver can refuse to take this test, there are penalties.

When a driver refuses to take a blood or breath test, their driver’s license will be suspended for at least one year. This is called an administrative per se (APS) sanction. This revocation is automatic and independent of any conviction for a DUI. The suspension will remain even if the driver is acquitted of a DUI at trial.

DUI Penalties in California

The penalties for DUIs in California vary depending on the circumstances of the DUI and the history of the driver. These penalties can include:

  • Jail time. Between four days and one year for non-felony offenses.
  • Fines. Up to $1,000 for standard offenses and up to $5,000 with enhanced penalties.
  • Probation. While an offender is on probation, they must obey a strict 0.01% BAC limit while driving.
  • DUI school. Anyone placed on probation is required to complete at least 30 hours of DUI school or at least 60 hours if they have a high BAC.
  • License suspension. All offenders have their licenses suspended for at least four months.
  • Ignition interlock device (IID). The court can require the offender to install an IID for up to four years after their license is restored.

For non-felony offenses, the penalties depend on how many times the offender has previously offended within the past 10 years.

If an offender causes any injuries during a DUI, they face enhanced charges. Anyone convicted of enhanced charges must serve at least five days in jail if it is a first offense or at least 120 days in jail if it is a second offense.

When an offender is charged with a fourth offense within 10 years or their DUI results in serious bodily injuries, the DUI is charged as a felony. This typically results in at least 180 days in jail, with a possible prison sentence. Offenders will also likely be required to complete at least 18 months of DUI school.

What To Expect After a DUI Arrest in California

When you are arrested for a DUI, the police officer will request that you take a blood or breath test. The police officer is required to forward a copy of the results or your refusal to take the test to the DMV. If you are arrested, you will be issued a notice of suspension and likely given a 30-day temporary license.

You have the right to contest the suspension. To contest it, you must request a per se hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receipt of the suspension order. Bakersfield DUI lawyers may be present for this hearing, but the state will not pay for you to have an attorney.

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Last Update: July 3, 2024

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