Out of all 50 states, California is known as one of the toughest when it comes to impaired driving laws.
Of course, all states have a blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent for motorists, but California also has its own "Zero Tolerance" policy. This essentially means that any amount of alcohol in your system can be ground for a DUI if you under 21 or you are someone who is on probation for past DUIs.
BAC Limits in California
BAC stands for blood-alcohol concentration, and this is what is measured when you take a breathalyzer test. All states, including California, have adopted DUI laws that label any driver who has a BAC of at least .08 percent to be legally intoxicated. The "Zero Tolerance" in California law applies to BAC limits for underage drinkers: anyone under 21 found to be driving with a BAC of at least .02 percent will be considered legally intoxicated in California.
In California, there is also implied consent. The implied consent law states that when motorists in California applied for a driver's license, they gave consent to field sobriety tests. This means that if a motorist in California is pulled over and asked to take a breathalyzer test but refuses, there may be serious penalties, including a citation, further complications if the driver was definitely found to be under the influence, and the risk of being dropped by their car insurance company.
DUI Minimum and Maximum Penalties
As long as no bodily injury is present, the minimum terms for a first conviction DUI misdemeanor are:
- Fines and assessments up to $2,000
- A suspended license for several months
- 48 hours of jail time
- Attendance and completion at an alcohol education program lasting three months
When a third or subsequent offense for driving under the influence has been committed within a period of 10 years, maximum terms may be applied to your conviction. These terms are:
- Fines and assessments totaling approximately $18,000
- 16 months in California prison
- Attendance and completion at an alcohol treatment program lasting 30 months
What to Do if You Are Accused of a DUI in California
If you are unfamiliar with the details of California driving law, you're not alone. But whether you were caught under the influence after enjoying wine country or while cruising with friends in San Francisco, it's essential that you understand the California penalties and laws that go along with your charges.
The best way to do this is to get in touch with a reputable lawyer who has experience with DUI defense cases. Contact one to put your best foot forward in your case and help avoid the most serious consequences.