California Drunk Driving Consequences

Drunk driving charges are not to be taken lightly, and California imposes stringent consequences for those found to be driving under the influence.

Under California law, if an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, you are required to submit to either a blood, breathalyzer or urine test. Refusing to take a chemical test will result in more severe penalties, including an automatic one-year license suspension on a first offense.

If you do take a chemical test and are found to be either over the legal limit of .08 percent BAC or driving under the influence of a an illegal drug or legal medication that impairs your ability to drive, you face at least a four month suspension (for a first offense) as well as fines and potential jail time. Those under 21 are subject to even harsher penalties for lower BACs, as California imposes zero tolerance laws This means teens with a BAC as low as .01 percent can be found guilty of DUI.

Other factors can also affect the penalties for a California DUI. A previous DUI in California or a previous DUI in another state can both result in more jail time, a longer suspension of your license, and larger fines. A DUI can also raise your insurance rates, result in 2 points on your license, and remain on your driving record for 10 years from the date of the violation. Unless you have your record expunged, the charges will remain on your criminal record for life.

Defendants can challenge DUI charges in California by requesting a DMV hearing to challenge the suspension of your license and/or by arguing your case in court. If you decide to challenge your DUI charges, or if you need other assistance in coping with these serious criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced California drunk driving lawyer who can help you to understand your options.