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California DUI Law

Under California law (Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and (b)), it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or any combination of the two. You can be arrested and charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs if:


You are over 21 and blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above the “legal limit” of .08 percent

You are under 21 and you have consumed any alcohol

You are a commercial driver’s license holder, in your commercial vehicle, and your BAC is at or above .04 percent

You display signs of intoxication due to alcohol, drugs, or any combination of these substances


If you are underage or driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the legal limit is different than the standard .08 percent. If you are a CDL holder and driving a truck, bus, or other commercial vehicle, then you can be charged with a DUI for a BAC at .04 percent or higher. If you are under 21 years old, California has a “zero-tolerance” policy, meaning you can be arrested for a DUI with any amount of alcohol in your system.


Being convicted of a DUI can be costly and inconvenience, which is why it is essential to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney. The consequences of even a DUI can include:


Jail time


Driver’s license suspension

DUI classes


Ignition interlock device

A first-time DUI is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a possible 10-month license suspension that is convertible to restricted driving privileges based on eligibility. While you are likely to be able to avoid actual jail time for a first offense, if convicted, you will not be able to avoid expensive fines, a driver’s license suspension, DUI classes, and probation. If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI, a DUI with a BAC of .15 percent or higher, or a drunk driving accident, you’ll receive an enhanced sentence upon conviction, which could include a lengthy jail term.


California DUI Offenses

While there is a misdemeanor DUI offense, there are also several other DUI crimes you can be charged with depending on the circumstances. At Silver Law Firm, our experienced defense attorneys are prepared to represent you in a variety of traffic and criminal cases, including:



If you are under 21 years and your BAC test comes back with a result of .01 percent or more, you may be arrested and charged with an underage DUI.


Facts that will aggravate your DUI offense to be charged as a felony include: if you caused another person’s injury or death while driving under the influence, you had three previous DUI convictions in the past 10 years, or a previous DUI that was a felony.


You can be charged with a DUI for impairment caused by drugs, including controlled substances, prescription medications, and over-the-counter products.


While medical and recreational marijuana are legal in California, it is still illegal to drive while impaired. If you are pulled over and test positive for a psychoactive amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), then you can be charged with a DUI. Like a typical, first-time, alcohol-related DUI, this is a misdemeanor. However, if you are high and you cause an accident that seriously injures or kills someone, you will be charged with a felony.