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California DUI Law


The law on DUI (driving under the influence) may be found in section 23152 (a) and (b) of the California Vehicle Code. According to DUI laws in California, a person under influence of drug or alcohol or combined use of both is prohibited from driving any vehicle. The law specifies the percentage of alcohol level permissible in the blood to legally drive a vehicle.

These two sections are typically charged together. While the first one is concerned about the ability to drive the vehicle, irrespective of blood alcohol level, the other specifies the permissible level (not more than 0.08 per cent by weight, of alcohol in blood).

California DUI Penalties

The nature of punishment for offenders of DUI varies with the level of blood alcohol content and the gravity of the situation. Usually, for a first time offender having a blood alcohol level lower than 0.20 per cent, no record of accidents or misdemeanor convictions, the punishment may follow a typical pattern. The offender may be subjected to informal or summary probation for 3-5 years, serve 6 months imprisonment in county jail and the offender’s license may be suspended for 6 months.

There are different types of fines and fees which may be imposed on the offender. For a first time offender in California, there is a base fine of $390 plus assessment charges. The offender should participate in a court approved California DUI school. California DUIs also have serious repercussions on car insurance rates.

The penalties may be enhanced if the offender is driving with a child in the car or speeding. Second and third time DUI offenders in California are subjected to more severe fines and punishments.

Legal Help for California Drunk Driving Arrests

Often, drunk driving cases do not go to trial. They are usually settled during DUI plea bargaining negotiations. Plea bargaining allows an offender to plead guilty and, in exchange, receiving reduced penalties. Expert help of a California drunk driving defense lawyer, experienced in such bargaining, may help in reducing penalties charged for a DUI offense in California.