California DUI Fines, Penalties, & Sentencing

When faced with a California DUI arrest and/or conviction, there are a number of issues to consider: Will you have to serve jail time? If so, for how long? Or is probation a possibility? What will you owe in fines? Will your license be suspended, and for how long? Will you have to go to a DUI school or do community service? Here are the basic laws regarding California DUI fines and sentencing.

California DUI Glossary of Terms
California DUI Insurance Consequences
What Happens When You Get Stopped for Drunck Driving?
How Does a Drunk Driving Conviction Affect Your Record?


First California DUI Offense:

California Criminal Status: Non-injury DUIs generally misdemeanors. DUIs that result in bodily injury may be elevated to felony status, depending on the circumstances.

Jail: 48 hours, but not more than 6 months.

California DUI Fines/Costs: $390-$1,000 plus penalty assessments.

California License Suspension: 6 months suspension; restored after 30 days upon showing of hardship. 1 year suspension if under 21.

Ignition Interlock Device: Court may order use of interlock device. Effective July 1, 2010, California promulgated a pilot program requiring mandatory installation ignition interlock devices for those arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles, Tulare, Alameda and Sacramento Counties. The ignition interlock device will be installed for 5 to 12 months.  If the pilot program is successful, the program may be expanded to the rest of the state.

Vehicle Impound: Court may order impoundment.

California DUI School: Mandatory alcohol education if under 21. Possible first offender school for 3-6 months (12-45 hours of alcohol education), depending on BAC level.

California Probation: 3 years informal – no probation officer.

Community Service: In some courts, you may work off some of your fees/costs by doing community service.


Second California DUI Offense Plus:

California Criminal Status: Non-injury DUIs generally misdemeanors. DUIs that result in bodily injury may be elevated to felony status, depending on the circumstances.

Jail: 90-120 days mandatory jail time, but no more than 1 year.

California DUI Fines/Costs: $390 to $1,000.

California License Suspension: 2 year suspension.

Vehicle Impound: Yes. Multiple offender’s vehicle may be seized and disposed.

California DUI School: 18-30 months at a DUI school, depending on whether it’s a 2nd or 3rd violation. CA Dept. of Alcohol and Drug Programs has a list of approved schools.

California Probation: 3-5 years informal probation (no officer to report to), OR formal probation (if third offense or more).

Community Service: 10 days required as alternative to jail time.



Commercial Vehicle: BAC limit for drivers of commercial vehicles while driving a commerical vehicle is 0.04.

Under Age: 21

California DUI Insurance Consequences: How a DUI/DWI Affects Your Car Insurance.

California Open Container Laws: Yes. Driver/passenger.

How long does a DUI stay on your driving/criminal record? In California, a DUI remains on your driving record for 10 years with respect to non-commercial drivers.  Before January 1, 2007, it only remained on your record for 7 years. Now, even if you were convicted of a DUI before the 2007 legislative change, it will still be reported for 10 years.  Conversly, a DUI will remain on your criminal record permanently unless you take affirmative steps to expunge your criminal record.  Most people think that DUIs are traffic violations; not true.  A DUI is a criminal conviction.

Driver Responsibility Tax: No.

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