Driving under the influence is never a good idea for your own safety and that safety of others. However, it’s important to know that the California DUI laws are complex, and sometimes DUIs are administered unfairly. There are hefty fines and jail time associated with their receipt. You need to understand all your options if you’re facing DUI charges.
The factors influencing DUIs vary immensely, from how old you are to your blood-alcohol content to who is driving, to whether or not you were in control of your car even when the car is in park. Because the laws are so complex, and because it’s not always clear whether or not you were actually at fault, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney who specializes in DUI law.
A good lawyer can help you find the most favorable interpretation of your situation, and make sure that you’re not charged unfairly. Because of the serious consequences, DUI charges can bring to your life, work and relationships, you don’t want to skip this step or risk being uninformed when it comes time to represent yourself in court. Instead, do the smart thing and get advice.
Before discussing that more, however, you must understand the basics of DUI laws in California, so take a look at the following facts, which will help you make more sense of your case – or a loved one’s – and prep you for your next steps.
California DUI Laws Overview
California has some of the most stringent laws in the country as far as DUI charges and related traffic offenses.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle, car, truck or motorcycle, under the influence of alcohol. Under this code, under the influence means that you are impaired and can no longer drive safely, or even if you are observed to be impaired because you are driving erratically, or swerving. The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit for operating a commercial vehicle is .04% or higher, and drops to .01% or higher if you’re younger than 21. Generally, this code makes it a crime even if the BAC is under .08%.
California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC states it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle if you’re 21 or older and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
As of July 2018, California now requires rideshare and taxi drivers to have blood alcohol levels of .04 or less when transporting passengers. Previous law allowed them to drive passengers with up to .08 blood alcohol in their systems, the same level as most drivers.
California DUI Consequences: Jail Time and Fines
DUI charges come with some jail time. Here’s an overview of the jail time with the specific offense.
1st DUI offense: will yield a 6 month license suspension, 0 – 6 months in county jail, alcohol classes for 3 – 9 months, and fines of $390 – $1000
2nd DUI offense within 10 years: 2 year license suspension, 96 hours – 1 year in county jail, alcohol classes for 18 months, and fines of $390 – $1000
3rd DUI offense within 10 years: 3 year license suspension, 4 months – 1 year in county jail, alcohol classes for 18 months, and fines of $390 – $1000
4th DUI offense within 10 years: 4 year license suspension, 6 months to 3 years in county jail or state prison, alcohol classes for 18 months. In California, this can also be considered a Felony DUI.
There are three ways a DUI can be considered a felony.
- Your DUI caused injury or death to another. If you are charged with a DUI causing injury or death, you could be charged with a felony punishable by two to four years in a California State Prison, with an additional three to six years if any victim suffers “great bodily injury.”
- You have 3 or more prior DUI convictions within a ten-year period. If you have had three of more of the DUI offenses listed above within 10 years, you could be facing a felony charge.
- You have at least one prior felony DUI conviction. If you’ve previously received a felony DUI conviction, then you are more likely to be facing another even if you’ve committed a simple misdemeanor DUI.
With felony DUIs, you can face:
- Up to $5,000 in fines,
- A five-year revocation of your driver’s license,
- An 18- or 30-month court-approved DUI school,
- And a “strike” on your record pursuant to California’s three strikes law, which adds significant time to the prison sentences of certain repeat offenders.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
In California, it’s also a crime to drive under the influence of drugs, defined as any substance other than alcohol that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles. This, of course, includes illegal drugs such as cocaine but also prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication—anything that impairs your driving.
In general, DUI charges of drugs is a misdemeanor with penalties such as a suspended license, a possible jail sentence, probation for three to five years, and fines of about $1,800 for a first offense. You face a felony charge if your driving causes injury to another party, if you have a prior felony DUI conviction, or if you have four or more DUI offenses.
California statutes also outline penalties for DUI crimes involving specific drugs:
- Vicodin (hydrocodone), Percocet, or other prescription painkillers
A first offense for any of these charges is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail; six to ten months of a suspended license; three to nine months of DUI school; and a fine of up to $1,000.
Contact an Experienced Glendale DUI Attorney
If you would like to discuss your particular circumstances of DUI charges with a skilled criminal defense attorney, call Parsanj Law Group today for a free consultation at (818) 273-1360 or submit your concern on our contact form.