Drinking And Driving Laws
According to California law, it is illegal for any person to operate a vehicle with a BAC of:
- 0.04% or higher, in any vehicle requiring a CDL—with or without a CDL issued to the driver.
- 0.01% or higher at any age, if the person is on a DUI probation.
- 0.01% or higher, if the person is under 21 years old.
- 0.08% or higher, if the person is 21 years old or older.
How A Los Angeles DUI Law Firm Can Help You Fight Drunk Driving Charges
As DUI lawyers, we constantly receive a slue of questions regarding DUI laws in this state. Here are some of the most common questions we receive:
What Are The Penalties For DUI In California?
1st offense misdemeanor – up to 6 months in jail, around $390-$1000 in fines, suspended license for 6 to 10 months, DUI school for 3 or 9 months.
2nd offense misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail, around $390-$1000 in fines, suspended license for 2 years, DUI school for 18 or 30 months.
3rd offense misdemeanor – 4 months to 1 year in jail, around $390-$1000 in fines, suspended license for 3 years, DUI school for 30 months.
Misdemeanor DUI with injury – up to 1 year in jail, up to $5000 in fines, as well as restitution, suspended license for 1-3 years, DUI school for up to 30 months.
Felony DUI with injury – up to 16 years in prison, up to $5000 in fines, as well as restitution, suspended license for 5 years, DUI school for up to 30 months.
3 or more DUIs in a 10-year period – an automatic felony with up to 3 years in prison, up $1000 in fines, suspended license for 4 years, DUI school for up to 30 months
In addition to the fines and penalties, the driver should expect a temporary loss of income due to jail time, court dates, required community service, and inaccessibility to transportation. Furthermore, a DUI charge will likely be on your record for as long as ten years and will be visible to any potential employer that performs a background check.
What About Drivers Under The Age Of 21?
Drivers under the age of 21 who operate a vehicle while blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher can be charged with a standard DUI and will generally face the same penalties as drivers who are over 21 years old. However, keep in mind that underage drivers may also be convicted of a “zero-tolerance” offense for having a BAC of even .01% or an “underage DUI” for having a BAC of .05% or more.
The complete list of the various thresholds and the violations they include are as follows:
- BAC of 0.01% or greater.
- This is the “zero tolerance” policy. This means that if you are found guilty, you will lose your license for one year. Luckily, this charge does not count as a criminal DUI charge which means that you will not face jail time or have a DUI on your criminal record.
- BAC of 0.05% or greater.
- If you are older than 21 years old, this would not count as DUI. However, if you are under the age of 21, a DUI will be put on your criminal record. You will lose your license for one year and pay a small fine and be required to attend a DUI course which you will also have to pay for. You will not face jail time.
- BAC of 0.08% or greater.
- This would cause the underage driver to face the full range of criminal charges just as anyone over the age of 21 would. This charge includes thousands of dollars of fines and court fees, up to six months in jail, impoundment of the vehicle, longer DUI courses, suspension of your driver’s license, and probation from 3 to 5 years.
If you are charged with DUI as an underage driver, you can be charged with more than one of these violations. Law enforcement can charge you will any of the violations that apply which adds more costs and penalties.
Furthermore, these penalties can be enhanced by aggravating circumstances, such as having a BAC well over 0.08%, driving on a suspended license, causing any injury or property damage, or being a multiple offender.
Even if you are under the age of 21, a skilled DUI lawyer can still beat your DUI charge. There are various defenses that can lead to your charges being dropped or deals being offered. These defenses include:
- The officer did not wait 15 minutes prior to the test to ensure that the driver did not eat, drink, smoke, vomit, or regurgitate.
- The breathalyzer was not calibrated properly.
- The tests were administrated more than three hours after the arrest.
- The defendant was not properly advised of their rights.
- The person drawing the blood was not an authorized technician.
- The draw site was not sterilized with a non-alcoholic cleaner.
- The blood sample was not properly stored.
- The breath sample comes from deep lung air.
An underage DUI conviction that qualifies as a criminal offense is likely to show up on a background check performed by a potential employer. An underage DUI conviction may cause you to miss out on employment opportunities and can stay on your record for years. Not only can it hurt your career, but it could have a negative impact on your education and financial aid.
Are There Extra Penalties For Speeding While Driving Under The Influence?
If you are caught speeding while drunk driving, you could face a DUI sentencing enhancement that can add an extra 60 days in jail to your DUI sentence. To be convicted, you must have been driving over the speed limit by:
- 30 mph on a freeway, or
- 20 mph on a street or other highway, and
- You were driving recklessly
Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers are experienced with handling these charges and can help you fight the charges.
DUIs and SR22
An SR22 is a certificate of insurance that your insurance company files with the DMV. The SR22 is required in order to reinstate your driving privilege after being charged with a DUI. It confirms that you meet the state’s minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage.
Under California law, you are required to get SR22 insurance for a DUI. With the SR22 insurance, the insurance companies will only be able to increase the driver’s fees for a three-year period from either the conviction or the start of the SR22. However, using the above annual rate increases, the driver can suffer a total increase over three years of over $7,500.
Generally, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, you will be placed on probation. This will probably include attendance at a DUI school, penalties, and a driver’s license suspension or revocation. In order to get a restricted license, a California SR22 must be filed.
The downside is that once your insurance company is notified that you need an SR22, it alerts them to the fact that something significant has happened and you will be labeled as a “high-risk driver” which means your rates will increase significantly.
To Learn More About DUI Laws In L.A. County, Contact Braden & Tucci Today
The penalties and fines add up quickly with a DUI conviction, and a common way people attempt to save money is by hiring a low-fee attorney or simply by not hiring an attorney at all. However, an experienced DUI defense attorney from Braden & Tucci can actually save you money by reducing various fees that an inexperienced attorney may fail to note.
Hiring a qualified DUI attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a reduction or even dismissal. To learn how our skilled legal team can help you after a DUI arrest, contact us at (213) 935-7550.