California DUI Law

DUI laws and penalties in California.

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In California, you can get a DUI (also known as driving under the influence, or drunk driving) if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. Here are some details on the consequences of drinking and driving.

In California, what are the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer or blood or urine test when suspected of DUI?

The law in California says that if you are driving a vehicle, you have given your consent to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here are the consequences of refusal to take a breathalyzer or blood test in California, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense2nd offense3rd offense
1 year suspension of license2 year suspension of license2 year suspension of license

In California, when do police have to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC)?

In California, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC at the time of driving. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for DUI even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in California?

In California, the maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors) is .01%.

What are the minimum jail times for a DUI in California?

Here are the minimum jail times for a DUI in California, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense2nd offense3rd offense
4 days90 days120 days

How long will prior DUI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in California?

In California, prior DUI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another DUI/DWI offense) for 10 years.

Can a DUI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in California?

In some circumstances, a plea bargain of "wet reckless" might be accepted by the prosecution in California. A "wet reckless," or a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, is usually made as a result of a plea bargain in which a charge of drunk driving is reduced to a case of reckless driving. A plea bargain of wet reckless might be accepted when the amount of alcohol is borderline illegal, there was no accident, and the defendant has no prior record. But you are convicted for drunk driving again within 10 years, the "wet reckless" is usually considered a prior drunk driving conviction for sentencing purposes. In other words, the resulting sentence may be what's required for a second DUI/DWI conviction. If you are interested in trying to make a plea for a wet reckless, you'll need the help of a lawyer.

If you are interested in contacting a lawyer for help with a plea bargain, you can find a DUI lawyer in your area in Nolo's Lawyer Directory.

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted DUI offenders in California?

California state law now requires the use of an ignition interlock device, even for first-time offenders.

Where can I get more information about DUI laws in California?

Nolo's DUI/DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a DUI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of California DUI attorneys in your area.

Last updated on 05/01/2011.

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