Close Menu
Better Understand the Law
Home > California DUI Law

DUI & DWI in California

Is your life about to be turned upside-down by a drunk driving arrest? One or two drinks with dinner can put you over the legal limit. However, you may be able to avoid conviction or get a reduced sentence if you consult with a California DUI attorney.

California DUI attorneys are also called “drunk driving lawyers” or “criminal defense attorneys”.

Here are some quick answers to concerns you may have:

  • If I’m convicted of DUI, what criminal sentence am I facing?

    Criminal penalties such as fines, jail time, ignition interlock, driver’s license suspension, highway safety classes, alcohol rehabilitation, and community service are common.

  • How will a DUI conviction affect my personal and professional lives?

    You may lose your good reputation reputation in the community as well as your job, professional license, and the respect of your family.

  • Can I be sued for driving drunk?

    If you hurt someone or damage property, while driving drunk, you could be sued in civil court and lose everything you have.

If you or a loved one has been arrested on a DUI charge in California, this article will help. We’ll summarize:

  • California DUI laws
  • California DUI punishments
  • Potential DUI defenses
  • California’s other drunk driving and alcohol laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in California – What are CA DUI Laws?

  • In general, you are considered to be legally drunk in California if you have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or more while driving in California.
  • If you’re a commercial driver, you are legally drunk if your BAC is .04 or higher.
  • If you are under the age of 21, you are legally drunk if your BAC is .01 or higher.

What is California’s Punishment for DUI Convictions?

In California, DUI criminal punishments are based on4 factors:

  • The more DUI convictions you’ve had, the more severe the penalty.
  • The higher your BAC, the harsher the penalty.
  • If you cause someone else’s death or bodily injury, penalties increase severely.
  • If there was a minor, under the age of 14, in your car, the penalty is increased.

Here are the basic penalties for CA DUI. Penalties are increased if one or more of the immediately above mentioned factors are present.

  • 1st DUI conviction within 10 year period = 96 hours to 6 months in jail – fine of $390 to $1,000 – driver’s license suspension of 6 months.
  • 2nd DUI conviction within 10 years = 90 days to one year in jail – fine of $390 to $1,000 – driver’s license suspension of 2 years.
  • 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years = 120 days to one year in jail – fine of $390 to $1,000 – driver’s license suspension of 3 years.

California Drunk Driving Defenses

Perhaps something went wrong with the BAC testing or your arrest. Ask a California drunk driving lawyer whether any of these defenses would apply in your case?

  • Erroneous Breathalyzer results with no back up test.
  • No second and independent test administered.
  • Testing officer wasn’t properly certified to administer the Breathalyzer.
  • Doctor or nurse, who drew blood,didn’t follow protocol.
  • Police didn’t have probable cause to stop you.
  • Someone else was actually driving or in control of the vehicle.
  • The trial judge did not offer appropriate jury instructions.

California’s Other Drunk Driving and Alcohol Laws

  • California Dram Shop Statute – A licensed drinking establishment is liable for injuries to third parties or a minor (caused by a minor who the establishment serves).
  • Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor – Any adult who serves alcohol to a minor can be sent to jail for between six-months and one year and hit with a fine up to $1,000 if the minor causes great bodily injury or death to himself or someone else.

    If there is no great bodily injury, the fine is $1,000 and a sentence of community service of at least 24 hours will be levied.

How to Find a California DUI Attorney

To find a CA DUI lawyer, you can search our website,, or ask friends or the bar association for a referral.

Share This Page:
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn