California DUI Information

California DUI Information is sponsored by Kapsack and Bair, LLC - specialty DUI lawyers that handle DUI cases throughout Northern California.

San Francisco DUI | Oakland DUI | San Jose DUI | Other Northern California DUI

California leads the nation in DUI arrests. According to the FBI, there were 177,405 California DUI arrests in 2004. Of these almost 1,500 of the DUI arrests were under the age of 18.

If you have recently been arrested for driving under the influence in California, we recommend you seek the counsel of a qualified DUI attorney in your local area. Information on the Internet is no substitute for professional legal representation.

People arrested for a California DUI face two separate processes - a California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) procedure that determines whether or not the California Drivers License is suspended or restricted, and a court case that can lead to a variety of DUI penalties.

California DMV

In California, a DUI arrest usually results in the officer confiscating the person's California Drivers License and issuing a temporary one. As a matter of course, the California temporary license will expire after 30 days if no action is taken. To prevent loss of driving privileges, the person arrested for DUI can request a CA DMV administrative hearing. The request for a CA DMV administrative hearing must be made within 10 days of DUI arrest.

While you are waiting for your Department of Motor Vehicles administrative hearing, your California Driving privileges will not not be suspended. If you win the administrative hearing, your license will be safe until the court makes a decision. So, by requesting a DMV administrative listing, you will get to keep driving legally longer.

The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding the arrest, not whether you are innocent or guilty of a criminal act. The hearing officer - who is an employee of the California Department of Motor Vehicles - makes three determinations: 1) who was driving; 2) if the arresting officer had "reasonable cause" to pull over and arrest the driver; and 3) whether the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above. Depending on the DUI case specifics each of these points can be challenged - if you win any one of them, you get to keep your driving privileges. Generally, though, a successful challenge of a California DMV administrative hearing requires the assistance of an experienced DUI attorney.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles maintains 12 Driver Safety Offices. You can only request a DMV administrative hearing, though, at the specific one that handles DUI cases for the county you were arrested in. Find the Driver Safety Office closest to you, but make sure they handle cases from the county of your DUI arrest.

You can find more information at the California DMV's website about DUI administrative hearings.

DUI in California Courts

Chapter 12, Article 2 of the California Vehicle Code covers driving offenses involving alcohol or drugs. Specifically, people arrested for driving under the influence are generally charged under section 23152 - Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. The two most common subpoints of 23152 are a and b:

(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

After being arrested for DUI, defendants are often charged under both the (a) and (b) provisions, may be convicted of both, but can only be punished for one (same DUI penalites anyways). Penalties for a first DUI conviction (unenhanced) in California typically include:

  • 3 to 5 years of court probation
  • A fine, including court fees and costs of $1400 to $1800
  • 6 month loss of California Driver License
  • Forced attendance at DUI School
  • 48 hours of jail time

If there was a prior DUI conviction within 10 years, these penalties go up significantly - California DUI Penalty Chart.

DUI penalties may also be enhanced if there are aggravating factors such as a child in the car (under 14), speeding, driving on a suspended or restricted license, accidents, high blood alcohol content (over .20), etc.

California DUI Resources







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