5 penalties of drunk driving in California

Christmas parties and New Year\’s Eve parties are on the horizon. While you might be tempted to consume alcohol at these parties, your best option for avoiding drunk driving charges is to either avoid those drinks or find a designated driver to bring you home. If you end up leaving a holiday party after drinking and you get pulled over, you will start going down the path of facing DUI charges in California. You should think about these five penalties of drunk driving in California before you start the ignition after the party.

Driver\’s license suspension

One of the most life-altering effects of being caught driving drunk in California is the driver\’s license suspension. You are facing a minimum of four months without your driver\’s license if you opted to take the chemical test when requested and this is your first DUI. If you didn\’t take that test, you are facing a year without your license if it was a first offense. The suspension terms increase with each subsequent DUI, so remember this if you have already been convicted of a DUI and are thinking of driving drunk again.

Fines and assessments

The fines for drunk driving in this state are astronomical. For a first offense, you face almost $2,000 in fines and assessments. A second DUI within a 10-year period would increase the fines and assessment total to around $18,000. Without your ability to drive since your license will almost certainly be suspended, you might find it difficult to pay these costs.


Even on a first offense, you will spend time in jail. That first offense comes with 48 hours in jail. A second offense within 10 years could land you in prison for 16 months. The period of incarceration can increase from there with each subsequent offense. You might also see increased incarceration periods if you are charged with an excessive blood-alcohol concentration percentage, which is .16 percent or above.

Social stigma

The social stigma of a DUI is something that is hard to overcome. The mere charge can mean that your car insurance increases. You might not be able to work if your job requires a clean driving record. These can make it hard for you to have a social life at all.

Other penalties

California law allows a vehicle to be confiscated. If you are facing your third DUI, you must have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle once you are legally able to drive again. You may be required undergo alcohol education classes, an alcohol treatment program, or a combination of both. Other penalties might also be imposed by the court.

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