Learn More About DWIs

California DUI & DWI Laws

Feb 23, 2016

California is more vague with their DUI convictions that most states, but that doesn’t mean that it’s more lenient. California has laws, such as “implied consent” and “zero tolerance” for driver’s under 21, that make standardize some punishments for DUIs. A driver can be arrested for a DUI if they are operating a vehicle above their legal limit set for that state.

The legal limit in Texas is as follows:

  • Standard, non-commercial drivers: 0.08
  • Commercial drivers: 0.04
  • Drivers under 21: 0.01

Penalties, Fines, & Suspension

A first offense charge of a DUI results in a variety of penalties such as:

  • a 4 month license suspension
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $10,000 fines
  • $125 fee for license reissue
  • Ignition interlock device installation
  • Enrollment in a DUI program

Chemical Test Refusal

California is an “implied consent” state, which means that anyone with a California driver’s license has agreed to take a chemical test if arrested or stopped for a DWI. If you do not comply with the chemical test, the state can suspend a person’s driving privileges. If a person refuses a chemical test multiple times, the punishment is increased. All driver’s – adults and minors – license are subject to driver’s license suspension for chemical test refusal is in addition to any punishment for the DUI conviction.

1st offense: 1 year suspension
2nd offense: 2 year revoke
3rd offense: 3 year revoke

Ignition Interlock

Ignition Interlock devices are discretionary in DUI cases in California. If an ignition interlock is required, a dashboard breath tester will be installed in their vehicle for a determined amount of time. The installation and maintenance fees are the responsibility of the driver.

Criminal Record

In California, a DUI can stay on your record for up to 10 years. That means that the courts can (and, likely, will) use a previous DUI conviction to increase penalties in the event of another DUI. After the 10 year period, a person can appeal to have their record expunged, which means that the conviction will remain on your DMV record, but will not show up on background checks and when applying for jobs. A DUI is not considered a felony in California until the 4th offense.

Under 21

California is a “Zero Tolerance” state when it comes to minors drinking and driving. The state increases penalties for anyone under 21 that has a measurable amount of alcohol registered in a chemical test. If a minor registers .01% or above, they can be charged with a DUI. A DUI conviction for a person under 21 has hefty consequences.

More on CA DUI Laws:

California Driver Handbook:


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Updated: May 24, 2016 at 10:53 am