What You Should Know About New California DUI Laws

What You Should Know About New California DUI Laws

Driving under the influence (DUI) is detrimental for anyone involved. California ranks under the national average for alcohol-impaired driving deaths. Regardless, more than 10,000 people die in the United States each year in alcohol-involved crashes.

California changes its DUI laws frequently. Keep reading to learn where California DUI laws currently stand.

Laws and Legal Limits

There are currently 2 DUI laws in California for adults. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, and it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more.

Most drivers arrested with DUIs in California get charged under both laws.

Your legal BAC limit in California must be lower than 0.08% if you’re over age 21. It must be lower than 0.04% if you’re a commercial driver, and 0.01% if you’re younger than 21.

Proposed adjustments may lower the BAC to 0.05% if the bills are passed. If the BAC limits decrease, California would have some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, alongside Utah.

California also prosecutes drivers under the influence of illegal drugs. The same applies to marijuana as well as some over-the-counter and prescription drugs.


The charge of a DUI will depend on if there are any other DUIs on the driver’s record or if any injuries occurred.

The majority of DUI cases are classified as misdemeanors. However, you may be charged with a felony if someone was injured, or if you have 4 or more DUIs on your record.

For reference, a first offense misdemeanor could land you up to 6 months in jail as well as a fine between $390- $1,000. Your driver’s license will get suspended for up to a year unless you are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

As of 2019, you may be legally required to install an IID, which is a personal breathalyzer placed in your car after receiving a DUI. Installing an IID will allow you to operate your vehicle, even if your license got suspended.

With each DUI charge on your record, the penalty will increase. Jail time and fines also greatly increase if someone is injured as a result of the incident.

Appearance in Court

After receiving a DUI, it is mandatory to appear in court. The prosecutor will decide whether or not to file charges.

If charged, you and your DUI lawyer must attend all court proceedings. It is vital to have an experienced attorney to help you navigate the legal system.

If it is your first time receiving a DUI in California, you have 10 days from your arrest to request a DMV hearing. A DMV hearing is separate from a criminal trial. The only thing a DMV hearing officer can decide is whether or not to suspend your license.

The outcome of a DMV hearing has no effect on criminal charges. The court can still issue penalties like jail time, probation, and fines.

If the court issues a not guilty verdict, the DMV may reverse the suspended license.

Now You Know California DUI Laws

Being up-to-date on new California DUI laws will help you and others on the road stay safe. Getting charged with a DUI can result in long-term consequences.

Stay safe on the roads, and get a trustworthy lawyer if you end up receiving a DUI.

For more information on laws and legal advice, check out our blog.

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