Motorists who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California can receive jail time, expensive fines and suspended driving privileges if convicted. Base penalties represent the minimum sentence for these crimes, but the circumstances of your case could result in increased penalties.

The legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.08% for most drivers, 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.01% for minors. A DUI charge in California results from a measured BAC of at least 0.01% for individuals younger than 21, 0.04% for drivers with a commercial license and 0.08% for all other drivers.

First-time DUI conviction

An initial DUI offense constitutes a misdemeanor in California. Minimum penalties include the following:

  • Six-month license suspension
  • $390 fine plus administrative fees that could equal thousands
  • 48 hours in jail or probation
  • 30 hours of mandatory DUI education (doubled for those with a BAC over 0.20%)

Second-time DUI conviction

Another DUI conviction results in increased penalties when it occurs within a decade of the first conviction. This misdemeanor offense carries these minimum penalties:

  • Two-year license suspension
  • $390 fine plus administrative fees that could equal thousands
  • 96 hours in jail or three years probation
  • 18 months of mandatory DUI education
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device at your expense when you regain your driver’s license

Third-time DUI conviction

For a third DUI conviction within a decade of the first two, penalties include:

  • Three-year license suspension
  • $390 fine plus administrative fees that could equal thousands
  • 120 hours in jail or three years probation
  • 30 months of mandatory DUI education
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device at your expense when you regain your driver’s license

If the drunk driving incident in question caused injury or death to another person, you will receive felony charges that carry fines of up to $5,000 and at least one year in prison. Because penalties vary dramatically depending on your case, you may benefit from seeking legal advice to protect your interests in court.