Category Archives: Drugged Driving
California DUI laws hold underage drivers to a stricter standard for driving under the influence of alcohol. Unlike adult DUI laws in California, underage drivers can be charged with drunk driving even though their driving ability is not impaired by alcohol. In addition, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 years to drive with any alcohol in their system.
Two laws directly target drivers under the age of 21 years who drive under the influence of alcohol:
- California’s Zero Tolerance Law for Underage Drivers (CVC §23136)
- Underage Driving with BAC of .05% or Greater (CVC §23140)
It is important to remember that a police officer could charge an underage driver with one of California’s stricter “adult” DUI laws. For example, a teenager could be charged with DUI causing injury or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). An officer may also charge an underage driver with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The charges you face depend on the circumstances of the DUI stop and arrest.
A DUI conviction for underage drinking and driving under either law can result in severe DUI penalties. A California DUI defense lawyer can evaluate your case to determine defenses that could help you beat underage DUI charges.
California’s Zero Tolerance DUI Laws for Underage Drivers
An underage driver is someone who is under the age of 21 years (legal drinking age). According to CVC §23136, it is unlawful for anyone under 21 years old to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or greater. The law applies to alcoholic beverages and medications containing alcohol.
BAC is measured using a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) test during a DUI stop. An example of a PAS is a roadside breathalyzer test that measures the amount of alcohol on the person’s breath. The machine converts the readings to the equivalent BAC level.
The law presumes that anyone who drives under 21 years gives consent to a PAS test or other chemical test if lawfully detained by law enforcement officers for allegedly driving with a BAC of .01% or higher.
An offense under this code section is not a crime. It is a civil offense. The only punishment for underage drinking and driving under the Zero Tolerance code section is a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension for the first offense. However, the court may revoke the person’s driving privileges for two or three years if there is a history of drunk driving offenses.
Underage DUI in California with a BAC of .05% or Higher
CVC §23140 states that it is unlawful for anyone 21 years of age or younger to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .05% or higher. This criminal offense is known as “underage DUI.”
In most cases, police officers confirm underage DUI with a post-arrest DUI chemical test. The test may be a blood or breath test. The implied consent laws apply to a test refusal by an underage driver. Refusing a chemical test for a lawsuit DUI arrest results in a one-year driver’s license suspension.
What Is the Penalty for Underage DUI with a BAC of .05% or Higher?
The penalty for underage DUI does not result in jail time. However, punishment for a first-time underage drinking and driving conviction include:
- One-year driver’s licenses suspension by the California Department of Motor Vehicles
- $100 fine
- Three-month mandatory alcohol education program for drivers between 18 to 20 years of age
The police department may impound the driver’s vehicle for a minimum of five days if they have prior DUI convictions and their BAC was .10% at the time they were arrested (or they refused to take a chemical test).
Penalties for Underage Drunk Driver Charged with Standard DUI
An underage driver might be charged with “adult” DUI if their BAC was .08% or higher or the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. If there were no injuries or aggravating, the minor faces penalties for a first-offense DUI misdemeanor. Those penalties include:
- Loss of driving privileges for one year
- A fine of $390 to $1,000
- Up to six months in county jail
- Mandatory attendance for three to nine months in an alcohol and/or drug education program
- Information (summary) probation for three to five years
The penalties for underage drinking and driving could increase depending on the circumstances of the arrest. For example, if a minor is charged with DUI causing injuries, they could face significant prison sentences if someone dies because of a DUI accident. An adult DUI conviction stays on a minor’s driving and criminal records for ten years.
If your child is charged with underage DUI, talk with an experienced California DUI defense attorney. There could be one or more defenses that could result in the DUI charges being dismissed or reduced.
Fighting Underage DUI Charges Under Vehicle Code §23140 VC
As with adult DUI charges, one or more defenses may apply in your case. Your attorney investigates the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest to identify problems with the prosecution’s case. Your attorney also obtains copies of the evidence the state has against you to determine the validity of the evidence.
Potential defenses to underage drinking and driving include, but not be limited to:
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a violation of law was taking place to make a traffic stop. Likewise, the officer must have probable cause to make an arrest. For example, pulling a teenager over solely for driving late at night or in a specific neighborhood may not be a legal traffic stop.
If the police officer violates your civil rights by making an illegal stop or arrest, the court may throw out all evidence collected during the traffic stop and the arrest. Without the evidence, the prosecution might have to dismiss the charges.
You Were Not Driving
You must be driving the car to be guilty of underage DUI. Sitting in a car drinking is not driving under the influence. However, the police officer could charge you with other offenses, such as underage drinking or drinking in a motor vehicle.
Challenging the Results of a Chemical Test
The results of a blood or breath test may not be accurate. Several reasons could cause a chemical test to give inaccurate BAC readings. Reasons to challenge BAC results include, but are not limited to:
- The DUI machine malfunctioned because of a lack of maintenance, default, or improperly calibration
- A medical condition caused a false reading, such as GERD, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and acid reflux
- The technician incorrectly drew the blood sample
- Contamination of the blood sample
- Your diet caused a high BAC level, such as a low carb/high protein diet
- Errors in the chain of custody
- Lack of training for the breathalyzer operator
- The police officer did not wait the required time before administering a breathalyzer test
- Rising blood alcohol levels
- You have dental work that caused the alcohol to pool inside your mouth
Any number of problems could exist with chemical tests. An expert witness may assist in proving that the BAC results from a chemical test were inaccurate or subject to reasonable doubt.
Errors and Mistakes by Police Officers
Law enforcement officers must follow specific procedures during a DUI investigation. If the officers made procedural errors, it could work in your favor. A DUI defense lawyer can use mistakes made by police officers to your advantage to create reasonable doubt for a jury.
Related Offenses to Underage Drinking and Driving
The police officer might arrest you for Underage Possession of Alcohol in a Vehicle (CVC §23224). The law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 years to have alcohol inside of a motor vehicle unless the container is full, sealed, and unopened and:
- The minor is carrying the alcohol as part of their job for an establishment with a valid liquor license OR
- The minor’s parents or another adult is in the vehicle OR
- The minor is disposing of the alcohol according to instructions by a parent or other adult.
A conviction under this code section is a misdemeanor. You could pay a fine of up to $1,000, lose your driver’s license for a year, and have your vehicle impounded for up to 30 days.
Another common alcohol-related charge is possession of marijuana or other drugs. Drug possession carries severe criminal penalties. You could face substantial jail time, fines, and other punishments based on the type and amount of drugs in your possession.
Underage DUI Can Have a Significant Impact on Your Future
If you are convicted of underage drinking and driving, you could have difficulty obtaining a job or getting into the school of your choice. In addition, your insurance premiums may be too high for you to pay, which leaves you with no alternative but public transportation.
Talk with a DUI defense lawyer before you plead guilty to DUI charges. Do not trust a police officer or prosecutor to tell you what you should do. Instead, get the facts from a trusted legal advocate who has your best interest at heart.
The burden of proof at a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hearing or APS hearing is by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This level of proof is less than the burden of proof a prosecutor would need to prove a case in criminal court.
However, just because your burden of proof at a DMV hearing may not be as high as if you were defending yourself in criminal court, it does not mean you should not consult a DUI defense attorney about the hearing. Losing your driving privileges can negatively affect numerous aspects of your life, including work, school, family, custody, and visitation.
During a DMV administrative hearing, the California DMV can take several actions against your driving privileges. Understanding the burden of proof and your rights at a DMV hearing can help you fight a driver’s license suspension or revocation by the California DMV.
What Is a DMV Administrative Hearing?
If the CA DMV revokes, suspends, or takes other discretionary action against your driving privileges, you have the right to a hearing before the department. The purpose of the hearing is to challenge the action taken by the department by reviewing the evidence the department has to support the action.
You must request an administrative hearing within ten days of receiving the notice from the CA DMV. Hearing requests are made through a DMV Driver Safety Office. You need to provide your full name, date of birth, address, and driver’s license number. It is also wise to have the notice available to provide other information the office may request.
The Standard of Proof for a California DMV Hearing
At a DMV administrative hearing, the hearing officer must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your driver’s license should be revoked or suspended. When the charges involve driving under the influence, the officer must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle:
- With a Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit (.08% or higher); OR,
- While impaired by drugs or alcohol
The evidence presented against you must prove you were driving under the influence or with a BAC above the legal limit by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it was more likely than not that you were intoxicated or impaired when a police officer arrested you for DUI. A “preponderance” generally means there is more than a 50% chance that the allegations are true.
A preponderance of the evidence is used in a civil trial. If your DUI charges proceed to criminal court, the burden of proof changes. The burden of proof increases to “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The burden of proving the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt is higher than by a preponderance of the evidence. A prosecutor in a DUI case must prove to a jury or the judge that the only reasonable explanation for the evidence presented in court is that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What Are My Rights At a CA DMV Administrative Hearings Held?
Your DMV administrative hearing is held in person or by telephone. A DMV hearing officer conducts the hearing. He is not a judge, but he has the authority to suspend or revoke your driver’s license.
You are informed of the actions or proposed actions taken against your driving privileges at the hearing. You are also informed of the legal grounds that the CA DMV has to take those actions. Your rights at a DMV hearing include:
- To be represented by an attorney at your expense
- Review the evidence the DMV has against you
- Challenge the DMV’s evidence
- Testify on your own behalf
- Present evidence you have regarding the matter, including witnesses, documentation, and testimony
- Cross-examine any witnesses that appear on behalf of the CA DMV
You receive a written copy of the hearing officer’s decision following the administrative hearing. If you disagree with the decision, you may request an administrative review by the DMV. You may also appeal the decision to the Superior Court.
What Actions Can the DMV Hearing Officer Take After the Hearing?
The CA DMV hearing officer is not a judge. He hears evidence after a DMV arrest to determine whether the person’s driving privileges should be suspended. The DMV officer may suspend your driving privileges if he finds the evidence proves:
- The officer had reasonable cause for the DUI stop;
- The officer had probable cause for a DUI arrest; and,
- You were operating your vehicle with a BAC of 0.8% or higher.
The hearing officer may also suspend your driver’s license if you refused a blood or breath test. California is an implied consent law for BAC testing. Drivers are deemed to have consented to chemical testing for BAC levels after a DUI arrest. Failing to consent to a breath, urine, or blood test after a DUI arrest can result in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges.
How Can I Win at a California DMV Hearing After a DUI Arrest?
Drivers who retain a Los Angeles DUI attorney to assist them in presenting a solid legal defense have a better chance of winning a DMV hearing. Even though DMV hearings are not criminal court cases, they are governed by rules, including the Administrative Procedures Act and the California Vehicle Code. Attorneys understand these rules and how to use the rules to a person’s advantage.
Furthermore, a DUI lawyer also understands the various DUI defenses that can help you win your case at a DMV hearing. Potential defenses you might raise during a CA DMV hearing include:
- The police officer did not have reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop
- You were not the person driving the motor vehicle, or you were not driving a motor vehicle (you were sitting in a parked vehicle)
- The breath testing machine used after the DUI arrest malfunctioned because of a defect, lack of maintenance, or improper calibration
- Your medical conditions resulted in inaccurate BAC readings
- You were arrested because of an illegal police DUI checkpoint
- The arresting officer lacked probable cause for a drunk driving arrest
- The field sobriety tests administered to obtain probable cause were flawed or administered incorrectly
- There were serious and fatal mistakes contained in the police officer’s reports and arrest documents
- The police officer violated your civil rights
If you do not defend yourself at a DMV hearing, your driver’s license will be suspended. However, that is not the worst consequence of a DUI arrest. A conviction for driving under the influence in California can result in numerous criminal penalties. Therefore, you also need to prepare a strong criminal defense against the DUI charges in criminal court.
Potential Punishments for a DUI Conviction in California
In addition to losing your driving privileges, you could also face several criminal penalties if convicted of drunk driving in California. Potential punishments that the criminal court might impose for a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction include:
- Fines, penalties, and assessments of $1,500 to $2,000 depending on the circumstances and the county
- Up to six months in a county jail
- Informal probation from three to five years
- Attendance at a DUI school from three to nine months
- Loss of driving privileges for six months
- Installation of an ignition interlock device to avoid six-month driver’s license suspension
- Attendance at a victim impact panel
In some counties, you might be eligible for work release if the court sentences you to jail time for a DUI conviction. In addition to the above consequences of DUI, you also may pay higher insurance premiums and could lose your job if you cannot drive to work. In the future, you could face harsher penalties for another DUI conviction within ten years.
Could I Face Enhanced Penalties for a First-Time DUI Conviction in California?
Yes, aggravating factors could significantly increase the punishment for a DUI first offense. Even if you have a clean driving record, certain aggravating factors could result in higher fines, longer jail terms, and even time in state prison.
Examples of aggravating factors include, but are not limited to:
- Being under the age of 21 years at the time of the DUI offense
- Causing an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Having a BAC of .015% or higher (some counties set a lower BAC level for this aggravating factor)
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test for BAC levels
- Having a child under the age of 14 years in the car
- Driving at excessive speeds
Some of the above factors could result in additional criminal charges associated with the drunk driving charge. For example, having a child in the vehicle could result in child endangerment charges. Also, driving at excessive speeds could result in racing or reckless driving charges.
If you cause a DUI accident, you may be ordered to pay restitution to all injured parties. Furthermore, the accident victims could sue you in civil court for compensation for damages. Finally, if the DUI accident resulted in death, you might be charged with a serious criminal offense, including felony charges.
It is always best to seek legal counsel regardless of whether this is your first or fifth DUI charge. The best way to fight DUI charges is to have a strong defense prepared by an experienced California DUI Defense lawyer.
California implied consent laws require drivers to submit to a chemical test of their blood or breath to determine blood alcohol content. The law applies to individuals lawfully arrested for driving under the influence. If a blood or breath test is unavailable, the law presumes the person consented to a urine test.
Failing to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest in California results in an administrative 1-year driver’s license suspension by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A second offense of failing to submit to a chemical test after DUI arrest is a two-year revocation of driving privileges.
Law enforcement officers often give evidentiary breathalyzer tests at the police station. Breath testing in this manner is admissible as evidence in court. However, the officer may also take a blood sample to determine the person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. It can be more difficult for a defendant to challenge the results of a blood test, but it is possible with independent tests.
A police officer cannot force you to take a blood test unless the court issues an order requiring the blood test. However, the penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test would apply even if the court ordered the person to submit to the blood test.
What Is a Blood Split in a California DUI Case?
A police officer may give a person a choice between a breathalyzer test or a blood test after a DUI arrest. Many people choose a breathalyzer over a blood test after being arrested for drunk driving. However, there are times when a blood test is required.
Blood tests after a DUI arrest are required when:
- The driver cannot complete a breathalyzer test because of a medical condition or physical impairment
- The officer suspects that the person is driving under the influence of drugs
- An evidentiary breathalyzer is not available for use
Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations (17 CCR §1219.1) explains blood collection and retention for compliance with California Vehicle Code §23158. It directs that the person collecting the blood sample to collect enough blood for multiple tests. The second sample is preserved and turned over to the driver upon request for independent testing.
How Does a Defendant Obtain a Blood Test Sample After a DUI Arrest?
The person’s DUI defense attorney generally requests that the prosecution provide a portion of the blood sample for independent testing. Generally, the state agrees to provide the sample to the DUI attorney. However, if the prosecutor refuses or fails to comply with the request within 15 days, the DUI defense lawyer files a motion with the court.
The “blood split motion” requests the court to order the prosecutor to produce a sample of the defendant’s blood for independent testing. The court may also sanction the prosecutor for failing to provide the sample to the defendant. Sanctions could include preventing the use of the chemical test results at trial and contempt proceedings against the prosecutor.
After having the blood tested, you do not have to use the results at trial. If the results favor the prosecution, you do not have to disclose that information to the prosecution. However, if the independent testing of the blood sample returns results that help your case, you may include that evidence as you defend yourself against DUI charges during the trial.
How Can a Blood Split Motion Help Your DUI Defense?
Under California Vehicle Code §23152, you can be charged with drunk driving if:
- You operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more; OR,
- You drive a vehicle under the influence of any alcoholic beverage
Experienced California DUI lawyers use the results of independent blood tests to fight drunk driving offenses under both situations.
Fighting a California Per Se DUI Case
California “per se” DUI cases rest on the fact that the person’s BAC was above the legal limit of .08%. The prosecution uses the evidentiary blood test to prove that you had a BAC greater than the legal limit at the time of your arrest. The law presumes that you were too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC was above the limit.
It is important to remember that the legal limit for a drunk driver may be lower for specific drivers. For example, the legal limit for commercial truck drivers is a BAC of .04% or higher. Underage DUI (driving under the age of 21 years) has a legal BAC limit of .05% or higher. Ride-share, taxi, and limo drivers have a legal limit of .04% or higher.
If the independent test reveals a BAC of below the legal limit, the defense can argue that the driver was not impaired at the time of the DUI traffic stop. The argument can create reasonable doubt, which might be sufficient for a jury to find the defendant not guilty.
Fighting Charges of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
The other DUI offense relies on the prosecution proving that the alcohol in your system impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. If the charge is DUID (driving under the influence of drugs), the prosecution must prove that the drugs in your system impaired your driving abilities.
Experts disagree on what levels of alcohol or drugs impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle. Because each person’s physiology is different, it may take more or less of a substance to impair your ability to drive than it would another person.
Defendants use the results of an independent blood test with the totality of the evidence to argue they were not impaired while driving.
For example, the only legal evidence is the police officer’s testimony that he smelled alcohol and the person “appeared” drunk because the driver refused to take the field sobriety tests. A blood split motion resulted in a low BAC level on an independent test. Along with expert testimony, there could be sufficient doubt for the jurors to find the defendant not guilty.
If the defendant is facing DUID charges, an independent test can be helpful for the defense. There is no “legal limit” for the amount of drugs in a person’s system to presume they are impaired. Therefore, it is more difficult for the state to win its case if the only evidence of drugged driving is a blood test that the defense refutes through independent testing.
Challenging the Collection Methods of a Blood Test for a DUI Charge
Title 17 clearly defines how blood samples are to be collected in a DUI case. The procedures law enforcement officers must follow to collect blood samples after a DUI arrest include:
- A medical professional or authorized technician must collect blood
- The sample must be collected as soon as possible after the arrest
- A sufficient sample must be collected to allow for testing by the state and by the defendant (i.e., blood split)
- The vial must have sufficient preservative and anticoagulant
- The blood cannot be contaminated with other substances
A DUI defense may include challenging the results of a DUI blood test because the officers failed to follow Title 17 procedures when collecting or preserving the blood samples.
Can You Split a Breath Sample or Urine Sample for a DUI Case?
You cannot split breath samples. Therefore, there is no way you can refute the results of a breath test except to challenge the circumstances surrounding the breathalyzer test.
For example, you could argue that the breathalyzer malfunctioned or was not calibrated correctly. In addition, you could offer evidence that the police officer was not trained or performed the breathalyzer incorrectly. Also, you could argue that a medical condition or other factor caused a false BAC reading from the breath test.
However, urine samples can be split for independent testing. Title 17 has similar requirements for collecting urine samples after a DUI arrest:
- The urine sample must be large enough to allow for at least two tests
- The urine sample must be retained for up to one year after collection to allow for independent testing by the defendant
Urine tests are not standard in DUI cases. Instead, most defendants are required to take breath or blood tests. Urine tests are only used when the other two tests are not possible.
Fighting Chemical Tests After a California DUI Arrest
Independent lab results could show that blood tests performed after a DUI arrest were incorrect. Your test could result in a BAC lower than the legal limit or the limit found by the police lab. In some cases, the independent lab may find that the blood sample had been contaminated or fermented, invalidating the results. Samples that were mishandled or not refrigerated properly could also provide incorrect BAC results.
Working with an experienced California DUI defense lawyer is the best way to attack the results of a chemical test after a DUI arrest. An attorney examines all evidence gathered by the state to determine what challenges would be helpful in your defense. Never assume that a blood test or breathalyzer result means a guilty verdict until you discuss your case with an attorney.
If you live in another state and get a DUI in California, you might find it inconvenient to have to attend an in-person California DUI school as a part of your sentence. Ordinarily, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires people convicted of DUIs to enroll in and complete DUI driving school here in California.
A non-resident can request a waiver of the California in-person DUI school requirement by filing a 1650 waiver request. If you do not attend and complete an in-person DUI program in California and do not request and receive a waiver, your home state can deny you a driver’s license. Your only option then is to make repeated trips back to California to complete the DUI school.
How to Request a 1650 Waiver
You will have to wait until you are eligible to request that the California DMV terminate your DUI suspension or revocation. If the California DMV grants your request, you would not have to attend driving school in this state, and you will be able to apply for a license in your state of residence.
You must meet all of these conditions to be eligible for a termination of action as a non-resident:
- Any suspension or revocation of your driving privilege is no longer in effect.
- If you had any Administrative Per Se restrictions on your driver’s license, all such restrictions are no longer in effect.
- You are no longer ordered by the court or the California DMV to have an ignition interlock device (IID) or any other court-ordered or DMV-ordered restrictions.
- You have paid all applicable administrative service fees.
You can check your driver’s record to verify these factors. You may request this information by telephone, online, or by regular US mail. After verifying that you have met all of the conditions, you will need to file an application for termination of action (DL4006) with the DMV, along with acceptable proof of out-of-state residency, payment of fees, and proof of financial responsibility, if required.
Application for Termination of Action (DL 4006)
The Application for Termination of Action must get sent to the Mandatory Actions Unit of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), with all the required documents and attachments. Before the termination of action under California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13353.5 can happen, the Mandatory Actions Unit must verify that the applicant has met all of the conditions and requirements.
The applicant must swear under penalty of perjury that the individual is not a resident of California. Also, the applicant must voluntarily authorize the California DMV to cancel the individual’s California driving privileges if the DMV terminates the suspension or revocation as requested. It usually takes the California DMV a month or two to process the waiver packet.
Documents the DMV Will Accept as Proof of Out-of-State Residency
The DMV provides a list of 18 different kinds of documents they will accept to prove that you do not live in the state of California. You must submit at least one of these papers with your DL 4006 form.
A few examples of the acceptable out-of-state residency documents for the 1650 waiver form (DL 4006 form) include:
- A home utility or cell phone bill
- Official voter registration documents
- A mortgage bill
- A rental or lease agreement signed by both the owner/landlord and the tenant/resident
- An employment document
- A property tax bill or statement
- A change of address confirmation by the US Postal Service
Whichever document or documents you choose to submit to show out-of-state residency must show your current out-of-state address that is the same as you provide on your DL 4006 form.
What is Proof of Financial Responsibility?
Proof of financial responsibility in the context of driving means that a driver has automobile insurance that will pay the losses of people who get injured or property that gets damaged as a result of the driver. California tries to protect the general public from people exercising the privilege to drive without being financially responsible to people they might harm.
The DMV might require you to provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22) from an insurance company authorized to do business in California. If your insurance is from a company not authorized to do business in California, the DMV will only accept that insurance document if you send in a Declaration Regarding Certificate of Insurance for Non-Resident Driver. That declaration is on the DL 300 form, California Proof Requirements for Non-Residents.
Who Needs a 1650 Waiver?
If you were a non-California resident and you got convicted of a “wet” driving offense, like:
- Driving under the influence, Vehicle Code 23152(a),
- Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, Vehicle Code 23152(b)
- Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.05% or higher, Vehicle Code 23140
- “Wet reckless,” Vehicle Code 23103.5
You will have to enroll in and complete an in-person California DUI driving school unless you get a 1650 waiver of that requirement. A 1650 waiver comes with significant consequences. For starters, once you use a 1650 waiver, you can never get a second waiver in your entire lifetime.
Also, you will not be allowed to drive in the state of California for three years, even if you become a California resident. If you do move to California, you will have to complete the DUI school before the DMV will issue you a California driver’s license.
Consequences in Your Home State
Getting an out-of-state DUI conviction does not let you fly under the radar in your home state. The California court will notify a non-resident’s home state of the conviction. Also, the DMV in California will suspend your California non-resident driving privileges.
You can face negative repercussions in both states, California and your home state, after getting convicted of a DUI here. Your state will treat the California conviction as if it happened in your home state.
Your home state is allowed to impose its own penalties on you, even if they are more severe than the penalties the California court assessed. Typically, your home state will not allow you to drive legally using that state’s driver’s license until you satisfy all of the penalties of the California conviction, which include the DUI program requirements of the DMV. One of the program requirements is the California DUI school.
Can I Attend a California DUI School Online?
Generally, no. A person convicted of a DUI in California must attend a licensed DUI program unless the individual obtains a 1650 non-resident waiver. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) evaluates, licenses, and monitors the compliance of all California DUI programs. The Behavioral Health Licensing and Certification Division, Driving-Under-The-Influence (DUI) Section is the specific aspect of the DHCS that performs these tasks.
You cannot simply enroll in any DUI school or program. The DUI school must be California-licensed to satisfy the penalties under your conviction. DUI school hopes to give participants an opportunity to address their problems with using alcohol and drugs, and to reduce the number of second and subsequent DUI offenses by individuals.
California DUI Programs
There are multiple levels of DHCS licensed DUI programs. For example:
- If you get convicted of reckless driving and you had a measurable amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, you must complete the “wet reckless program,” which is a 12-hour DUI education program.
- For a first-offense DUI conviction, the DMV requires the completion of a three-month 30-hour alcohol and drug education and counseling program. If the first offense was for a blood alcohol content of 0.20% or higher, the individual must complete a nine-month 60-hour alcohol and drug education and counseling program.
- If a person gets a second or subsequent DUI conviction, there is a mandatory 18-month multiple offender program. The program includes 52 hours of group counseling, 12 hours of alcohol and drug education, six hours of community reentry monitoring, and biweekly individual interviews during the 12 months of the program.
- For a third or subsequent DUI conviction, a county may choose to impose 30-month DUI programs, with 78 hours of group counseling, 12 hours of alcohol and drug education, 120 to 300 hours of community service, and close and regular individual interviews.
The high level of involvement and time required by California DUI programs make it difficult for someone who lives in another state to participate in and complete the program requirements.
COVID-19 FAQs for DUI School
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of California enacted measures to reduce exposure to the virus, including suspending or limiting DUI program services. Anyone participating in program services or wanting to enroll in the program could find limitations on the program due to COVID-19 restrictions. The DHCS supported telehealth services for DUI programs to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Are There Additional Penalties for a DUI Conviction in California?
Yes, and you do not get to avoid these consequences just because you are not a California resident. Also, keep in mind that your home state can impose additional penalties. In California, a first-time DUI conviction could include these penalties:
- DUI school
- A six-month driver’s license suspension period
- Up to six months in county jail
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months
- Fines and penalties adding up to as much as $1500 or $2000
- DUI probation of 3 to 5 years
- Work release
Getting a DUI conviction can impact your life in many other ways. You will want to work with a California DUI attorney to protect your rights if you get arrested for drunk driving.
If you have been convicted of a DUI charge in the past, then you know how difficult it can be to get your life back on track after being arrested. One of the most important things people want to know when facing second-time DUI charges is what kind of penalties they will face if convicted again. This guide provides information about the consequences of California DUI convictions and how long these penalties last.
California DUI penalties can be severe, so it is crucial to understand the factors that will affect your case. California DUI penalties can also vary based on how high your BAC (blood alcohol content) is. So let’s discuss the various factors that can affect your DUI case and what you can expect.
Keep in mind that you should seriously consider looking into defense lawyers to represent you in court. Many in California offer free consultations so that you can discuss your options. When you have qualified DUI attorneys in your corner, you stand a much better chance of getting a favorable outcome.
Charged with a Second DUI in California? Here’s What to Expect
If you’re facing your second DUI in California, you are likely familiar with the first-time DUI penalties. Things are much different for your second offense. While it’s true that you can still get an interlock system installed after 90 days if you lose your DMV APS hearing, it must remain in your vehicle for one full year. What’s more, you’re looking at your driver’s license being suspended for two years as a result of the conviction this time around. After the first year, you can have it switched over to a restricted license. If you agree to a DUI interlock, however, you can get driving privileges right away as long as the 90-day APS suspension has passed.
Other likely penalties include:
- Summary DUI probation of 3 to 5 years
- Mandatory jail sentence of at least 96 hours or as much as one year
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000 plus penalties assessments of approximately $1,000
- Complete either an 18-month or a 30-month driver responsibility program approved by the court
Since you will likely be out on probation, court in California always impose the following conditions:
- You will have to agree to take a chemical test if you are arrested again for DUI
- You may not commit any new crimes while on probation
- You must not drive with any measurable BAC
Not only that, but you may also need to take part in additional penalties based on the circumstances of your DUI offense.
- Participate in the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Victim Impact Group
- Attend AA (Anonymous Alcoholics) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings
- Take part in the ignition interlock devices program for up to three years
- Make restitution (if you cause an accident while driving intoxicated)
Although it is certainly disappointing, the second DUI conviction may be expunged. You can typically get this if:
- You were put on probation
- You successfully completed probation
Essentially, the expungement petition is submitted to the court and then reviewed by the judge. If the judge grants the petition, you can withdraw the guilty or non-conviction plea and submit a “not guilty” plea again. Once a plea of “not guilty” is filed, the case should be dismissed.
What is the Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol Content in California?
The legal limit for blood alcohol content in California is 0.08%. This is the standard throughout the United States and most other countries around the world. A person can be charged with a DUI if they are driving while intoxicated, meaning their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or over this legal limit of 0.08%.
There are many factors that affect how quickly someone’s BAC will increase to this level; these include tolerance levels, gender, weight, age, and more. It’s important to note that it takes time for your body to absorb an alcoholic beverage into your system.
The California BAC limit is .08%, meaning anything at or above this range is illegal. That said, you can still face charges if your BAC is below .08%.. Moreover, most states have zero-tolerance DUI laws for BAC limits of 0.02% or more for drivers under 21. However, California’s zero-tolerance limit for underage drivers is .01%. The same applies to anyone on DUI probation, regardless of age. Moreover, if you are pulled over and pass a breathalyzer test but fail field sobriety tests, you can be arrested and charged with DUI.
Can DUI Punishment Be Increased?
There are certain circumstances that, if present at the time you are booked for your second offense DUI in California, will increase your county jail or state prison sentence.
The most common of these include:
- Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher (less in some counties)
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test
- Causing an accident
- Being a minor under 21 at the time of your DUI offense
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Having children under the age of 14 in the car
What type of enhanced penalty you receive for any of these aggravating factors will largely depend on (1) the exact circumstances of your California DUI arrest, and (2) your criminal history (with focus on your prior DUI history). Clearly, a prior DUI conviction, combined with one of the above-mentioned aggravating factors, makes the pending penalties even more severe.
If you are facing your second DUI in California, it’s important to have legal counsel on your side. When you work with a qualified attorney, they will fight for the best outcome possible and ensure that you can drive to work with minimal restrictions. As long as you complete the court’s requests and don’t get into any more trouble, you can expect a smoother probation period.
Check for DUI law firms in your area and ask to set up a consultation to discuss the best course of action for proceeding with your case.