A drunk driving charge in California is serious business. The ramifications of an arrest can last the rest of your life and cost you or your family hundreds to thousands of dollars.
California drivers of all ages need to know what’s at stake when they choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or intoxicating medications.
Multiple BAC limits: While the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) in all states is 0.08 percent for adults over 21 years of age, underage drivers should know that a different BAC level applies to them. California has a zero-tolerance policy regarding underage drunk driving, with underage drivers at risk for arrest if their BAC is 0.01 percent or higher. Penalties for a first offense include one year of license suspension, criminal charges, and multiple expensive fines.
Immediate license suspension: On your first DUI offense, according to California’s Admin Per Se policy, you’ll lose your driver’s license for at least 4 months. Other penalties include up to six months jail time, over $1000 in fines and additional penalties, and may require the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
DUI classes, penalties, and legal proceedings: A DUI arrest is costly and time-consuming. You will be required to attend a state-mandated DUI program which provides education on the risks of driving while intoxicated. Some California counties, including Los Angeles, also require the installation of an interlock device, which can cost you at least $2 per day. You can also count on court costs and legal fees.
Your arrest becomes public knowledge: Your DUI arrest will become publicly available to anyone who wishes to see it, including family, friends, potential employers, and more. A DUI arrest also shows up on your background checks as part of your permanent criminal record, affecting your ability to get a job or other important life events.
Loss of professional licenses: Do you drive a commercial vehicle for a living? Driving drunk puts you at risk of losing your commercial driver’s license forever. If you’re caught with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher, your first offense results in a one-year suspension. If you have a subsequent DUI arrest within ten years of your first arrest, you will lose your license permanently.
If you live in California, a DUI arrest will change your life forever. Play it cool and drive smart, sober, and safe.