DUI in California: How Do DUIs Work in California?


DUIs are a relatively common occurrence on California’s roads. In fact, during the 2021 Labor Day weekend, California Highway Patrol averaged one DUI arrest every five minutes. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve only had one or two drinks, the police are more than happy to issue you a DUI if you’re driving even slightly over the legal limit.

If you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of a DUI in California, you’re probably wondering about what comes next. California DUI laws don’t have to be a mystery. Read on to learn about the next steps in the process.

License Suspension

The first item that you need to take care of when you receive a DUI is to make sure your driver’s license hasn’t been suspended. Getting arrested for drinking and driving automatically starts a process at the DMV called an Administrative Per Se Hearing that may result in license suspension.

You must contact the DMV within ten days of your arrest to challenge the process. If you don’t contact the DMV within that time period, then your license may be suspended for at least 30 days after your arrest. It is important to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate this process, otherwise, your chances of success are low.

First Offense Penalties

There are a number of different penalties for people who receive their first DUI. The severity of the penalty depends on the nature of the offense, but in general, first-time offenders deal with more lax penalties.

For example, a first-time offender typically ends up with three years of informal probation, along with fines that amount to approximately $2,000. You should also expect to attend a 30-hour alcohol education program that totals about $500.

Typical punishments do not include jail time for first-time offenders, though that could be on the table if someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of your driving.

California DUI Penalties for Repeat Offenders

If this isn’t your first time receiving a DUI in California, then the penalties are much steeper. At a minimum, expect to spend 96 hours or more in jail. Many prosecutors try to increase jail time up to a year.

Your license will be suspended for two years. If it has been more than one year, or if you refuse to complete a chemical test when you were pulled over, you will not be able to apply for a restricted license until the second year of your suspension.

Since you have a lot more to lose the second time you get a DUI, it’s important to have an attorney on your side to help you get a fair shot in court.

Did You Get a DUI in California?

Let’s face it, there’s nothing enjoyable about getting a DUI in California. In fact, the potential penalties you’re facing can be incredibly frightening to think about. As with all things in the law, you’ll fare much better if you have an attorney on your side to help you get through the process.

Life is full of surprises, some better than others. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a resource you could turn to whenever you have a question about something that came up? Check out the rest of our blog for the answers to all of your questions and much more!

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About the Author: Amanda Byers

Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.