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California Laws Pertaining to DUI

DISCLAIMER : This guide is designed to provide general information. It is not designed to render legal opinions.

Alcohol Impairment Charts - Driving Under the Influence(DUI) of Alcohol and/or Drugs is Illegal

There is no safe way to drive while under the influence. Even one drink can make you an unsafe driver.

Drinking alcohol affects your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). It is illegal to drive with a BAC that is .08% or more (.04% or more if you drive commercial vehicles; .01% or more if under 21). However, a BAC below .08% does not mean that it is safe or legal to drive. The charts below show the BAC zones for various numbers of drinks and time periods. Remember: “One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor (even if mixed with non-alcoholic drinks), a 5-ounce glass of 12% wine, or a 12-ounce glass of 5% beer. These one drink equivalents change if you are drinking ale, malt liquors, fortified wines, port, brandy, different proof liquor, or if you are drinking on an empty stomach, are tired, sick, upset, or have taken medicines or drugs. HOW TO USE THESE CHARTS: Find your weight chart. Then, look for the total number of drinks you have had and compare that to the time shown. If your BAC level is in the grey zone, your chances of having an accident are 5 times higher than if you had no drinks, and 25 times higher if your BAC level falls in the black zone.

blood alcohol chart

(.08% Up) Definitely DUI *

DUI Laws

Section 23103. "Reckless driving."

(a) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(b) Any person who drives any vehicle in any offstreet parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(c) Persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104.


Section 23140. "Persons under 21 years of age."


(a) It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

(b) A person may be found to be in violation of subdivision (a) if the person was, at the time of driving, under the age of 21 years and under the influence of, or affected by, an alcoholic beverage regardless of whether a chemical test was made to determine that person's blood-alcohol concentration and if the trier of fact finds that the person had consumed an alcoholic beverage and was driving a vehicle while having a concentration of 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, upon a finding that a person has violated this section, the clerk of the court, or judge if there is no clerk, shall prepare within 10 days after the finding and immediately forward to the department an abstract of the record of the court in which the finding is made. That abstract shall be a public record and available for public inspection in the same manner as other records reported under Section 1803.


Section 23152. "Driving under influence."


(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.

(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person's blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

(c) It is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(d) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.


Section 23153. "Driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to another person."


(a) It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.

(b) It is unlawful for any person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after driving.

(c) In proving the person neglected any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, it is not necessary to prove that any specific section of this code was violated.

(d) It is unlawful for any person, while having 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210, and concurrently to do any act forbidden by law or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of performance of a chemical test within three hours after driving.


Section 13353. "Chemical blood, breath, or urine tests."

(a) If any person refuses the officer's request to submit to, or fails to complete, a chemical test or tests pursuant to Section 23612, upon receipt of the officer's sworn statement that the officer had reasonable cause to believe the person had been driving a motor vehicle in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, and that the person had refused to submit to, or did not complete, the test or tests after being requested by the officer, the department shall do one of the following:

(1) Suspend the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of one year.

(2) Revoke the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of two years if the refusal occurred within seven years of either (A) a separate violation of Section 23103 as specified in Section 23103.5, or of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or of Section 191.5 or paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code, that resulted in a conviction, or (B) a suspension or revocation of the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to this section or Section 13353.2 for an offense which occurred on a separate occasion.

(3) Revoke the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of three years if the refusal occurred within seven years of any of the following:
(A) Two or more separate violations of Section 23103 as specified in Section 23103.5, or of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or of Section 191.5 or paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code, or any combination thereof, which resulted in convictions.

(B) Two or more suspensions or revocations of the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to this section or Section 13353.2 for offenses which occurred on separate occasions.

(C) Any combination of two or more of those convictions or administrative suspensions or revocations. The officer's sworn statement shall be submitted pursuant to Section 13380 on a form furnished or approved by the department. The suspension or revocation shall not become effective until 30 days after the giving of written notice thereof, or until the end of any stay of the suspension or revocation, as provided for in Section 13558.

(D) For purposes of this section, a conviction of any offense in any state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or Canada that, if committed in this state, would be a violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or Section 191.5 or paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code, is a conviction of that particular section of the Vehicle or Penal Code.

(b) The notice of the order of suspension or revocation under this section shall be served on the person by a peace officer pursuant to Section 23612. The notice of the order of suspension or revocation shall be on a form provided by the department. If the notice of the order of suspension or revocation has not been served by the peace officer pursuant to Section 23612, the department immediately shall notify the person in writing of the action taken. The peace officer who serves the notice, or the department, if applicable, also shall provide, if the officer or department, as the case may be, determines that it is necessary to do so, the person with the appropriate non-English notice developed pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 14100.

(c) Upon receipt of the officer's sworn statement, the department shall review the record. For purposes of this section, the scope of the administrative review shall cover all of the following issue

(1) Whether the peace officer had reasonable cause to believe the person had been driving a motor vehicle in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153.

(2) Whether the person was placed under arrest.

(3) Whether the person refused to submit to, or did not complete, the test or tests after being requested by a peace officer.

(4) Whether, except for the persons described in subdivision (a) of Section 23612 who are incapable of refusing, the person had been told that his or her driving privilege would be suspended or revoked if he or she refused to submit to, or did not complete, the test or tests.(d) The person may request an administrative hearing pursuant to Section 13558. Except as provided in subdivision (e) of Section 13558, the request for an administrative hearing does not stay the order of suspension or revocation.


Punishments
The statutory punishment for a DUI conviction can be very severe. All of the penalties listed below are within the Court’s discretion:

These penalties do not include any suspension that may be carried out independently by the DMV.

Penalty: First Conviction
23536. (a) If a person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23152, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which shall be continuous, nor more than six months, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(b) The court shall order that a person punished under subdivision (a), who is to be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, be imprisoned on days other than days of regular employment of the person, as determined by the court. If the court determines that 48 hours of continuous imprisonment would interfere with the person’s work schedule, the court shall allow the person to serve the imprisonment whenever the person is normally scheduled for time off from work. The court may make this determination based upon a representation from the defendant’s attorney or upon an affidavit or testimony from the defendant.

(c) The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.

(d) Whenever, when considering the circumstances taken as a whole, the court determines that the person punished under this section would present a traffic safety or public safety risk if authorized to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, the court may disallow the issuance of a restricted driver’s license required under Section 13352.4.

(e) This section shall become operative on September 20, 2005.

Penalty: Second Offense Within Ten Years
23540. (a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, that resulted in a conviction, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.

(b) Whenever, when considering the circumstances taken as a whole, the court determines that the person punished under this section would present a traffic safety or public safety risk if authorized to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed under paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, the court may disallow the issuance of a restricted driver’s license required under Section 13352.5.

(c) This section shall become operative on September 20, 2005.

Penalty: Third Conviction Within Ten Years
23546. (a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles as required in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender his or her driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.

(b) A person convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350.

Penalty: Fourth or Subsequent Conviction Within Ten Years
23550. (a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of three or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.

(b) A person convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350.

Minor Passenger: Enhanced Penalty
23572. (a) If any person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the court shall impose the following penalties in addition to any other penalty prescribed:

(1) If the person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23536, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 48 continuous hours in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which shall be stayed.

(2) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23540, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 10 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(3) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23546, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 30 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(4) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 which is punished as a misdemeanor under Section 23550, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 90 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(b) The driving of a vehicle in which a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger shall be pled and proven.

(c) No punishment enhancement shall be imposed pursuant to this section if the person is also convicted of a violation of Section 273a of the Penal Code arising out of the same facts and incident.

Chemical Testing: Refusal to Take or Failure to Complete: Enhanced Penalties
23577. (a) If any person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, and at the time of the arrest leading to that conviction that person willfully refused a peace officer's request to submit to, or willfully failed to complete, the chemical test or tests pursuant to Section 23612, the court shall impose the following penalties:

(1) If the person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23152, notwithstanding any other provision of subdivision (a) of Section 23538, the terms and conditions of probation shall include the conditions in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 23538.

(2) If the person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23153, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 48 continuous hours in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted and no part of which may be stayed, unless the person is sentenced to, and incarcerated in, the state prison and the execution of that sentence is not stayed.

(3) If the person is convicted of a second violation of Section 23152, punishable under Section 23540, or a second violation of Section 23153, punishable under Section 23560, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 96 hours in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted and no part of which may be stayed, unless the person is sentenced to, and incarcerated in, the state prison and execution of that sentence is not stayed.

(4) If the person is convicted of a third violation of Section 23152, punishable under Section 23546, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 10 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted and no part of which may be stayed.

(5) If the person is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of Section 23152, punishable under Section 23550 or 23550.5, the punishment shall be enhanced by imprisonment of 18 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted and no part of which may be stayed.

(b) The willful refusal or failure to complete the chemical test required pursuant to Section 23612 shall be pled and proven

Speeding: Additional Penalty
23582. (a) Any person who drives a vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway, and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103 during the commission of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 shall, in addition to the punishment prescribed for that person upon conviction of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, be punished by an additional and consecutive term of 60 days in the county jail.

(b) If the court grants probation or suspends the execution of sentence, it shall require as a condition of probation or suspension that the defendant serve 60 days in the county jail, in addition and consecutive to any other sentence prescribed by this chapter.

(c) On a first conviction under this section, the court shall order the driver to participate in, and successfully complete, an alcohol or drug education and counseling program, or both an alcohol and a drug education and counseling program. Except in unusual cases where the interests of justice would be served, a finding making this section applicable to a defendant shall not be stricken pursuant to Section 1385 of the Penal Code or any other provision of law. If the court decides not to impose the additional and consecutive term, it shall specify on the court record the reasons for that order.

(d) The additional term provided in this section shall not be imposed unless the facts of driving in a manner prohibited by Section 23103 and driving the vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway, are charged in the accusatory pleading and admitted or found to be true by the trier of fact. A finding of driving in that manner shall be based on facts in addition to the fact that the defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or both, or with a specified percentage of alcohol in the blood.