DUI Laws and Penalties | Sacramento DUI Attorney
Our experienced Sacramento DUI attorney provides the following overview of California DUI law for the benefit of clients and others. Our DUI attorney offers effective representation to people accused of a wide range of criminal misconduct.
Please note: this information is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. The law often changes. Therefore, always consult a Sacramento DUI attorney for the most current information.
California DUI Law Highlights: BAC Levels and Implied Consent
- “Per Se” BAC Level – .08
- “Zero Tolerance” BAC Level – .01
- “Enhanced Penalty” BAC Level – .15
- “Implied Consent” Law – Yes, applicable
“Per Se” Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
A “per se intoxicated” level results from testing with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent. In other words, drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of impairment is necessary.
“Zero Tolerance” Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
“Zero tolerance” laws target drivers under the legal drinking age. Chiefly, these laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with even a negligible BAC level of .01 percent.
“Enhanced Penalty” Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
State law imposes harsher penalties on DUI offenders with a particularly high BAC at the time of the offense. In this case .15 percent, or twice the “per se” level of intoxication. DUI offenders with a BAC at or above .15 percent will likely face additional jail time, harsher fines, as well as more severe driver’s license sanctions.
“Implied Consent” Laws
“Implied consent” laws require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of a DUI. If a driver refuses to submit to testing, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver’s license.
California DUI Law Highlights: Selected Penalties
- Administrative License Suspension/Revocation (1st/2nd/3rd Offense)
- 4m/ 2y/ 3y
- Mandatory Alcohol Education and Treatment/Assessment
- Both (Education if under 21)
- Vehicle Confiscation Possible?
- 3rd offense
- Ignition Interlock Device Possible?
Note: Persons arrested for DUI will be subject to additional criminal law penalties not addressed here – including jail time, fines, and community service. Such criminal penalties are typically more discretionary than those identified in this chart, and are therefore more difficult to accurately predict. Generally speaking, first-time DUI offenders can expect to incur a fine, and face the possibility of jail time. Repeat DUI offenders will incur harsher fines, and will almost certainly serve a number of days in jail. Penalties will be harsher still if the DUI offender was involved in an accident in which someone else was injured or killed.
Administrative License Suspension/Revocation
The Administrative License Suspension/Revocation penalties indicated here refer to minimum mandatory penalties imposed on drivers whose BAC is above the state limit for intoxication, or drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing. Administrative suspension or revocation of a driver’s license is carried out by the Department of Motor Vehicles, distinct from any criminal court penalties. The state imposes harsher penalties for second or third DUI offenses (see table), generally defined as those that occur within five years of a prior DUI offense. You have a right to a hearing before the DMV for a suspension or revocation, but you must act quickly to request a hearing within ten days of receiving the suspension/revocation order.
Note: the penalties identified here do not include variations for DUI offenders operating commercial vehicles, or drivers who have violated “zero tolerance” and “enhanced penalty” DUI laws (see Table 1).
Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment
Alcohol education and treatment/assessment penalties for DUI offenders can include mandatory attendance at DUI prevention programs and assessment of potential alcohol dependency problems. Such programs are “conditions” of a suspended sentence or probation.
Vehicle confiscation penalties allow the DMV or law enforcement agency to seize a DUI offender’s vehicle, either permanently or for a set period of time. Such penalties typically apply only to repeat DUI offenders, and often the return of the vehicle requires payment of fines and significant administrative costs.
A vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device measures a driver’s BAC. Additionally, it will prevent operation of the vehicle if more than a minimal amount of alcohol is detected (i.e. BAC level of .01). In general, DUI offenders will usually be required to pay the costs of installation, rental, and maintenance of an ignition interlock device.
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