California DUI/DWI Laws

If you’ve recently been charged with DUI in California, you may be facing some serious consequences. Depending on the amount of alcohol in your system (your blood alcohol content), you may have to spend time in jail – even if it’s your first offense.

In addition to facing up to six months in jail, if you are convicted of DUI, you will also be required to pay a fine, which is often more than $1500. Your driver’s license will most likely be suspended for six months as well and you may have to attend a DUI program. And if you have a previous history of DUI, the judge may order you to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, complete a specified amount of community service or even serve up to three years of probation.

Under current California law, drivers who are caught driving under the influence can be charged with two separate offenses. The first is your basic DUI charge. In addition, however, if your blood alcohol content is .08% or above, then you may also be charged for that – this is called the per se offense. Although only one of these charges can result in your punishment, you can be convicted of both, which means two separate offenses will show up on your criminal record.

You should also be aware that, if you refuse to take an alcohol test – often referred to as a breathalyzer – you will automatically be charged with DUI, regardless of whether or not you were actually drunk at the time. This may seem surprising, however, what you probably don’t know is that when you accepted your driver’s license, you agreed to submit to chemical testing if requested. Your refusal is therefore a violation of the terms you agreed to and warrants an immediate charge.