California Drunk Driving Information
“Don’t ever plead guilty to a DUI without at least consulting an attorney first – there are too many defenses to just plead guilty.” Police Sergeant Jack Anderson, Garden Grove Police Department.
This section of our website operates as a DUI FAQ and gives you Information on California Drunk Driving Laws, Punishment, and Procedures.
Charges for Driving Under the Influence
DUI is the number one crime committed in the State of California (not including simple traffic tickets, which are technically “criminal” violations). Even for a first offense, the penalties can be serious – including a driver’s license suspension, fines of over $2,000, mandatory attendance at a Court or DMV approved alcohol programs and potential jail time. In addition, a DUI conviction creates a criminal conviction, and stays on your DMV driving record, and will result in higher insurance premiums, requiring an SR22 for three years.
Furthermore, you may become ineligible for certain state or federal licenses, be suspended, lose any existing licenses, or even lose your employment. If you have prior convictions, are accused of speeding while DUI, had children in the car, or had an accident while driving under the influence, the penalties may be far worse.
Estimate your blood alcohol level using our Blood Alcohol Calculator.
The information on this page is specific to California, as our law firm only handles DUI defense in Orange County. If you are in another state, your laws may differ..
We also have specific pages for information and resources related to areas outside of Orange County:
- Los Angeles Drunk Driving Attorney
- San Diego DUI Attorney
- Orange County DUI Lawyer
- Long Beach DUI Lawyer
- Inland Empire DUI Lawyers
California’s Drunk Driving Laws
The law in California, specifically Vehicle Code sections 23152, make it illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, or while having above a .08% blood alcohol level. A separate related subsection makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while any of certain types of drugs are in your system (DUID). That includes driving with prescription medications, and certain legal and illegal drugs.
Is a DUI A Felony, or a Misdemeanor?
Most DUI cases are misdemeanors. To be a felony, there must be an accident with great bodily injury while DUI, or three or more prior DUI convictions.
What is the Punishment for a DUI?
Every law has a minimum and a maximum. The minimum for first time DUI charges includes three years of probation, fines, and fees that approximate 2000, and attendance at an alcohol school. The maximum can add up to 180 days (six months) in jail, or community service or a labor program that equals that amount of jail time. For second time DUI cases, third time DUI cases, or fourth time DUI cases, the punishment rises dramatically.
How can I keep my license from a DUI?
Under a separate proceeding, the DMV will decide whether or not to suspend your license. It is important to fight this hearing to save your driving privileges. To do so, you, or a DUI Attorney, must request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest, and then plan for the hearing and your defenses.
What are the Defenses to a DUI?
There are many defenses to a DUI, some that attorneys that do not practice in DUI Defense don’t even know of. There are defenses based upon probable cause, which is the legal term for the reason the police pulled you over. There are specific DUI defenses to breath testing in a DUI case. There are specific DUI defenses to blood testing in a DUI case as well, along with factual defenses, defenses based upon timing and alcohol levels, and defenses based upon contamination of breath or blood samples.
What if the Police Didn’t Read Me My Rights?
If the police did not read your Miranda rights in a DUI case, that may not be enough to dismiss your case, as most DUI cases are based upon observations plus a blood or a breath test. But it shows the officer didn’t follow procedures that are required, and also may suppress, or exclude, any confessions or admissions you made regarding any part of the case.
How can I find a Good DUI Lawyer?
You will want to have someone that has experience in DUI cases specifically, and knowledge regarding field sobriety testing, blood testing, breath testing, and all aspects of DUI Defense. You will want someone like our Orange County DUI Lawyers, and we can help you.