In the state of California, if a person is found driving their car with an alcohol level of .08% or more (in relation to their weight,) it is considered unlawful.

The weight equation

Percent of alcohol (by weight) in an individual’s blood is based on grams of alcohol per 100 mm of blood/grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.


The range of penalties for driving drunk in the state of California can be vast. The penalties are dictated by the basic statute, but the judge may augment the sentence depending upon:

1. If there is a child under the age of fourteen in the car.

2. If an individual is found to be driving with a alcohol level of over .15%.

3. If the individual had a prior conviction within the last ten years.

4. If the individual was speeding over 20 MPH.

5. If the individual refused to submit to a chemical test.

Within the basic statute, the sentence will depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

1. Any weaknesses in the case uncovered by the defense attorney.

2. Any local policies of a specific court, depending on where the trial is held.

3. The case’s facts.

4. The attorney’s reputation.

The sentencing of an individual is entirely separate from their driver license’s suspension, which is an involved process in itself. When a police officer arrests a person for a DUI, the officer must immediately forward a notice of suspension of the individual’s license along with their sworn report to a DMV. Then, the DMV reviews the officer’s report. If the report is upheld, an individual may then request a hearing to contest the suspension with the DMV. An individual has ten days to request a hearing with the DMV. However, the DMV may not return a driver’s license to them.

The license returns to the individual at the end of their suspension, and after they pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV. If the individual is under the age of 21, the reissue fee is $100. If an officer issues the individual a temporary license, they may drive for 30 days from the date they are given the license as long as they have a California driver license and their original license was not expired.

If the individual submits to chemical testing and they are 21-years of age or older, and the results come back as .08% or higher, one of two things can happen:

1. If this is the first offense, their license will be suspended for 4 months.

2. If is the second offense, or more, within 10 years, their license will be suspended for a year.

Should the individual be under 21-years of age, and the chemical test came back with .01% or more, they cannot drive for a year.

If an individual refuses to take the chemical test and they are 21-years of age or older, they will lose their license for a year if it is their first offense. If it is the second offense within ten years, they will lose their license for two years. If it is their third offense, or more, within ten years, they lose their license for three years.

Should the individual be under 21, they will lose their license for a year if it is their first time. A second offense within ten years means they lose their license for two years, and a third offense, or more, results in a three year suspension of their license.

What to expect during your first DUI arrest

$2,700 for the car insurance increase.

$816 court system assessment.

$550 DUI class.

$480 for the DUI fine.

$187 for towing car and storing it.

$156 for booking in prison, finger-printing, and the photo fee.

$100 for reinstating license.

$100 for the DUI Victim’s fund.

$50 Alcohol Education Fund fee.

$44 community service fee.

$20 Victim’s Impact sessions.

$35 time payment charge.

$10 DMV file search charge.

$1 night course fee.

For a grand total of: $5,294

Time Lost

7 years with 2 points on the driving record.

3 years probation.

4 months without a license (minimal).

15 weeks for a DUI class.

2 nights DUI Victim Impact Panel.

2 days picking up highway trash.

2 days at the DMV.

4 hours in jail.

3 hours getting the car back.

1 hours in handcuffs.

If it is an individual’s second offense, there are two options which both carry a fine of $390 to $1000, plus:

1. Ten days to one year in jail and an 18-month loss of license, or:

2. 48 hours to one year in jail, an 18-month/30-month alcohol/drug program, and license restriction. A license restriction allows for driving only for work and alcohol/drug program.

For a third offense, an individual faces 120 days to 1 year in jail, plus a $390 to $1000 fine, 3-year loss of license, and an 18-month alcohol/drug program.