All California DUIs carry criminal penalties including fines, driver’s license suspension and potential jail time.
Many people think that a DUI is a traffic violation—that it’s essentially just a really bad speeding ticket. Unfortunately, in California this is far from true. All DUIs are criminal offenses under the California Vehicle Code. Most DUIs will be prosecuted as misdemeanor crimes and some can even be felonies. Accordingly, all DUI convictions carry substantial criminal penalties.
DUI is a “priorable” offense in California, meaning that if you have previous DUIs on your record the consequences will be tougher for a new DUI. That means the exact penalties you face depend largely on your past history and the circumstances of the DUI. As a general rule, however, all DUIs carry some variation of the following penalties:
- Most DUIs carry jail time lasting anywhere from two days to six months, or even twelve months. In some cases you could get time in state prison instead—up to 16 months, or years if someone was hurt.
- Driver’s license suspension. Your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of months or years. You may qualify for a restricted license during this time.
- Fines in most DUI cases are between $390 and $1,000. In some cases they are many thousands more.
- In addition to fines you will be charged administrative assessments (court fees) running over a thousand dollars, often much more.
- Traffic school. You will be required to complete a DUI school program lasting from 3 months to 30 months before you can get your license back.
- You will receive a minimum three years’ probation that may carry additional requirements.
For more specific details, see the complete penalties for first time and repeat offenders.
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