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California DUI Laws

California has some of the most stringent impaired driving (DUI) laws in the country. A first offense (without bodily injury) is punishable by nearly $2,000 in fines and assessments, 48 hours in jail, several months of license suspension, and completion of a three-month alcohol education program. If you commit a third or subsequent DUI offense within a 10-year period, you may be sentenced to as many as 16 months in state prison, roughly $18,000 in fines and assessments, and the requirement of a 30-month alcohol treatment program. Understanding the law will not only help you avoid committing a DUI, but also help you plan your next steps if you have been arrested for the offense.  

The following chart lays out the basics of California DUI law, including blood alcohol contentration (BAC) limits, penalties, and information about license suspension.

California DUI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08 Percent
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02 Percent
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16 Percent
Implied Consent

to Submit to BAC Test?


California DUI Laws: Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation

(1st, 2nd, 3rd offense)

6 months, 2 years, up to 10 years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Both (education if under 21)
Vehicle Confiscation


Ignition Interlock Device


Yes (mandatory for 3rd offense)

Note: State laws are always changing through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to make sure you have the most recent information. 

Admin Per Se Immediate Driver License Suspension or Revocation

Under the administration license suspension program ("Admin Per Se"), motorists may have their driver's license automatically suspended or revoked. This includes those who have been arrested for a DUI and:

  • Register a 0.01% BAC while on probation; or
  • Refuse to take a BAC test
Those who are affected have 10 days to request a hearing in regard to the suspension or revocation. 

California DUI Resources

Get Professional Legal Help From a California DUI Attorney 

Whether you were pulled over while cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway or after a night out with co-workers in the Bay Area, it's important to understand California's DUI laws and penalties. A smart way to do that is to speak with a skilled attorney who specializes in defending DUI cases. Get some peace of mind today and contact an experienced California DUI attorney near you.

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  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

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DUI Laws & Resources

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