What are the penalties of a California DUI?

If you are convicted of DUI in California, the punishment can be severe. You can face criminal penalties (jail time), civil penalties, driver license suspension or revocation and thousands of dollars in fines and fees.

drinking and driving jail

The penalties, fines, and fees become much more severe each time you are subsequently convicted.
Also, the punishments and penalties can vary between different counties and courts, but in general, all counties have a very uniform set of punishments, but the fees and penalties may vary.

For example, some counties may have mandatory jail time and some counties may have a mandatory policy of requiring you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for the first offense.
The fees are also varied from county to county, but in general, on the first offense, you may have to pay about $2,000 in fines, fees and penalties and, based on the county's requirements, the cost of getting a DUI conviction can easily add up to over $5,000. (This is the first offense cost, the cost of getting subsequent DUI convictions can be much higher.)

Additional costs may be incurred such as:

  • If you are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle, you must pay for the installation and maintenance of IID.
  • You must pay for signing up and attending an alcohol treatment program.
  • If your car is impounded, you must pay to the impound agency for every day that your vehicle has been stored, and this can easily add up to be in the thousands if you are in jail and do not have the opportunity to pick up your vehicle.
  • If you need to hire an attorney to provide you legal advice or represent you in court, the cost of attorneys and legal fees can be in the thousands.

Additionally, if you get into an accident and cause injuries because you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol and you are convicted of DUI, the punishments are much more severe, you can face misdemeanor or felony charges based on the circumstances such as your BAC level, the amount of injuries that you have caused, and your past records.
These types of offense are very serious. For example, if you are convicted of Felony DUI with injury, you can face prison time of 16 months to 10 years in the California State Prison.

What are the penalties for the California DUI – First Offense? The penalties vary based on different circumstances such as your BAC level, whether you were involved in an accident or based on different counties or judge rulings/court decisions, but below are some of the general set of penalties imposed if you are convicted of DUI for first offense:

  • Mandatory jail time of between 96 hours to six months
  • Three to five years of informal/summary probation
  • $390 to $1,000 in fines, plus other related fees and costs that can add up to be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 based on the circumstances
  • Six-to-twelve-month driver's license suspension (that can later be converted to a restricted license for driving to work or an alcohol treatment center)
  • The requirement of signing up and attending a DUI education program for three to nine months
  • The requirement of installing and maintaining of an ignition interlock device on your car

If you are between the age of 13 and 21 years old and you are convicted of possessing, purchasing, or attempting to purchase alcohol and/or drugs, or you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving or in public, you can face the above penalties, plus the court will order a one-year suspension of your driving privilege.

If you are convicted of DUI for second or third time within 10 years, the penalties and punishments are much more severe.