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California DUI Laws

California has three main driving under the influence laws. The first is the common driving under the influence. A motorist commits this crime by driving and being under the influence of alcohol with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more. Accordingly, a driving while under the influence of any amount of drugs constitutes a DUI. The second type is committing a driving under the influence and resulting in bodily harm to another person. A motorist is guilty if she drives a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher and harms another in the process. The final type is an administrative DUI. If the motorist is arrested for driving under the influence and refuses to take a chemical test, her license may be revoked for a year. California does not categorize DUI as misdemeanors or felonies. Rather, California proscribes DUI and creates a range of punishment. For a first offense, a motorist could be held anywhere from 48 hours to 1 year in prison. California leaves the punishment in the judge’s hand and let her decide what punishment best fits the crime.

Accordingly, there are “special factors” and enhanced punishments. Special factors include high blood alcohol content and refusing to take a chemical test. Accordingly, having a minor (under 14) in the vehicle at the time of the DUI increases the punishment depending on how many prior convictions.

Regarding the administrative revocation hearing, a person who refuses to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) may lose their license for a year. Under California law, it is unlawful for any person with a 0.01 blood alcohol content to be driving a vehicle. Furthermore, every motorist is deemed to have implicitly consented to taking a chemical test. Once an officer stops a vehicle, he may require the motorist to take a chemical test. The motorist has the right to decide which test to take and the officer must acquiescent. If the motorist refuses or repeatedly tries to defraud the test, the motorist’s license is removed.

If convicted of driving under the influence too many times, the department of motor vehicle may revoke the motorist’s license. The motorist is allowed a restrictive driver license with special conditions. One of these conditions may include the ignition interlock device; which is basically where the motorist is required to blow into the device to determine if the motorist is sober enough to drive.


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