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Laws & Penalties

There are many laws & fines which go along with a DUI conviction. Outside factors such as legal fees, insurance premiums, vehicle repair and doctor bills also contribute to the total cost of a DUI. Call in or sign up to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Craig M. Sturm. He will cover the specific details of your case with you, personally. The following is Information from the California DMV.

Under 21 Laws & Penalties
Possession of Alcohol
If you’re younger than 21 years old, you can’t possess alcohol in your vehicle unless the container is full, sealed, and unopened. You also must either:
  • Be with a parent or legal guardian, or
  • Be working for a person with an off-site liquor license.
Breaking this law leads to:
  • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days.
  • Fines of up to $1,000.
  • License suspension for one year.

Zero Tolerance Law
The Zero Tolerance Law is exactly what it sounds like: California won’t tolerate any amount of alcohol (specifically, 0.01% or higher) for drivers younger than 21 years old.

The first time you’re charged with drunk driving, you face:
  • License suspension for one year.
  • The educational portion of DUI school.
  • Hundreds of dollars in fines.

Your DUI attorney and judge will inform you of the longer suspension periods, higher fines, and more stringent DUI programs you face if you have a second or subsequent offense.

NOTE: Your suspension period is based on whether you submitted to the chemical test. See “Chemical Test Refusal Penalties” below for more information.

21 or Older DUI Laws
First Offense
  • Immediate license suspension per the state’s Admin Per Se policy. (See below for more information on Admin Per Se suspensions.)
  • License suspension unrelated to Admin Per Se for at least 4 months.
  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines. Keep in mind additional penalty fines and legal fees.
  • $125 fee for license reissue.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • DUI program. The length varies depending on factors like your BAC at the time of arrest.
  • SR-22 filing.

Second and Subsequent Offenses
The California Driver Handbook describes penalties for second and subsequent DUI offenses as “increased,” meaning you will face longer jail time and more expensive fines, in addition to the DUI program and SR-22 filing requirement.

Your license suspension and revocation periods change, too. For example, a second or subsequent offense within 10 years of your prior offense brings license suspension or revocation for at least 1 year.

Because penalties beyond first offenses are dependent upon the offense number, it’s best to contact a CA DUI attorney for help.

Commercial Driver DUI Penalties

Commercial drivers caught with a BAC of 0.04% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle can expect the following license suspension periods:

  • First Offense: 4 months
  • Second and Subsequent Offenses (in a 10-year period): 1 year

Note that these suspension periods are in addition to any fines, jail time, and DUI programs the CA DMV and court system impose.

Also, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Disqualification of Drivers wields a big hand when it comes to commercial drivers and the offenses that disqualify them―sometimes permanently―from having a valid CDL.

Other DUI Penalties

CA Ignition Interlock Device
You may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) into your car as part of your DUI penalties.

An IID is a small gadget wired to your vehicle’s ignition that requires breath samples before you can start your vehicle, as well as periodically throughout your drive. If an IID detects alcohol on your breath, the vehicle won’t start.

The court might order an IID if:
  • You had a BAC of at least 0.15%.
  • You had moving violations prior to the DUI.
  • You refused the chemical test.
  • You’re convicted in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare Counties.

The court provides forms and procedure instructions for monitoring the installation and use of your IID. Expect to pay various fees and related costs, including administrative service fees and restriction fees.

California provides a list of IID providers. Make sure the provider you choose is licensed in the state.

Admin Per Se Penalties
An Admin Per Se suspension occurs when the officer takes your license on the spot after you fail or refuse a chemical test. The officer or the DMV will issue an Order of Suspension and possibly a temporary license.

If you believe the suspension is unjustified, you may request an administrative hearing within 10 days of receiving the order.

Chemical Test Refusal Penalties
You face additional license suspension penalties if you refuse to submit to a chemical test upon being pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, and you will have your license confiscated on the spot.

Younger than 21 years old
  • First Offense: Suspended for 1 year.
  • Second Offense: Revoked for 2 years.
  • Third Offense: Revoked for 3 years.
21 years old or Older
  • First Offense: Suspended for 1 year.
  • Second Offense: Revoked for 2 years.
  • Third Offense: Revoked for 3 years.
California Three Strikes Law

California’s Three Strikes Law delivers certain sentences to people who commit multiple serious and violent felonies―specifically, upon a “third strike,” a convict receives a life sentence with the possibility of parole only after 25 years.

Proposition 36 revised which crimes warrant life sentences, authorized re-sentencing, and detailed when to maintain life sentences.

Some CA DUI offenses fall under the Three Strikes Law. These include the most serious offenses―those that involve severe injuries and death. Not only do you face extended jail time, longer (or even permanent) license revocation, and higher fines and court costs, but you might also face civil lawsuits.

If your case falls under the state’s Three Strikes Law, don’t try to navigate the court system alone; seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Get a FREE case consultation!

What Clients Are Saying

Craig is educated in his field and knows more than the prosecution!
I would like to say THANK YOU to the offices of Sturm Law specifically Craig Sturm. When I was told that the most important decision I would make on my sons case was hiring the right attorney, I did my research. As a client, you need ...
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The Best Decision I Ever Made
I would like to say THANK YOU to the offices of Sturm Law specifically Craig Sturm. When I was told that the most important decision I would make on my sons case was hiring the right attorney, I did my research. Nothing beats stepping up and considering your options. ...
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Recent DUI Case WINS

  • A. Nunez - BAC .10% - DUI Dismissed w/Suppression Motion
  • Dr. T - BAC .12% - DUI Dismissed in Trial
  • C.O - BAC .16% - DUI Dismissed PNC to Dry Reckless
  • G. Scott - BAC .09% - DUI Dismissed PNC to Speed Ex
  • N. Jaraba - BAC .09% - Dismissal
  • S. Gomez - BAC .25% - DUI Dismissed

The right attorney makes the difference and our reviews speak for themselves.


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