DUI Penalties in California

Article Provided by Elon Berk

California’s DUI laws seek to punish motorists who drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. If you’re caught driving with this BAC level, you should retain legal representation to protect your rights. You may face substantial penalties if you under represent yourself.


Your first DUI carries a fine of anywhere from $390 to $1,000. Future DUI convictions will receive those penalties, in addition to “penalty assessments,” which can substantially raise the dollar amount a driver has to pay out for an offense. For repeat offenders, penalties routinely reach several thousand dollars or more.


Although somewhat unlikely, it is entirely possible for a first-time offender to spend up to six months in jail. Although 48 hours is more likely with first-time offenders. However, the judge usually orders probation. Judges tend to be lenient on first time offenders, based on the nature of the offense, and often won’t order jail time.

License Suspension

A six-month license suspension generally accompanies any first-time DUI conviction. There’s usually a period of four-month administrative suspension as well. This penalty is imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If a driver faces more than one suspension, they’re typically allowed to overlap. You won’t usually need to complete two full suspension cycles. It’s usually possible to acquire a restricted license to drive to and from school after 30 days, assuming you have properly followed all court ordered restrictions.


First DUI offenders almost always receive a three-year term of informal probation (though that can climb as high as five years). The offender must also complete a three-month DUI driving school class (which consists of about 30 hours).

Elon Berk is a Criminal Defense Attorney and managing partner at “Gurovich, Berk & Associates.” Elon Berk is also the co-founder Enkrypt, a secure communication app for the iPhone.