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What is Considered Drunk Driving in California?

Under California’s DUI laws, it is illegal for motorists to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (.04% or more for commercial drivers). A person is considered to be under the influence if they are substantially affected by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. Similar rules apply to riding bikes and scooters while intoxicated and boating under the influence (BUI).

California also has a zero tolerance policy for underage drivers (under 21 years old). Merely having a BAC of .01% or more while operating a vehicle as an underage driver is enough to be charged with an underage DUI. Call (310) 499-2744 or contact Adams Law online to discuss your defense options in a free consultation today.

Note - as opposed to some other states, California requires proof of driving for a DUI conviction; being in actual physical control of a vehicle (e.g., sitting in the driver’s seat while the car is parked) is not sufficient for a charge.

California DUI Penalties

  • 1st Offense Misdemeanor - up to 6 months in county jail, up to $1k in fines, up to 9 months DUI school, &/or up 6 month interlock ignition device
  • 2nd Offense Misdemeanor - up to 1 year in county jail, up to $1k in fines, up to 30 months DUI school, &/or up to 2 year suspended license/1 year interlock ignition device
  • 3rd Offense Misdemeanor - up to 1 year in county jail, up to $1k in fines, up to 30 months DUI school, &/or up to 3 year suspended license/2 year interlock ignition device
  • DUI w/injury (Misdemeanor) - up to 1 year in county jail, up to $5k in fines plus restitution to injured parties, up to 30 months DUI school, &/or up to 1 year suspended license/6 month interlock ignition device
  • Felony DUI - up to 3 years in state prison, up to $1k in fines, up to 30 months DUI school, &/or up to 5 year suspended license
  • DUI w/injury (Felony) - up to 16 years in state prison, up to $5k in fines plus restitution to injured parties, up to 30 months DUI school, &/or up to 1 year interlock ignition device

At Adams Law, we will not waste any of our clients’ time and will take the offensive immediately. Whether arguing for mitigated charges or even dismissals, our firm is prepared to take your case to trial and defend you courageously. From standard DUI to underage DUI to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, Attorney Eric Samuel Adams, Jr. can build a creative defense unique to your case and protect your rights as a driver in Los Angeles.

Schedule a free consultation with Adams Law online or at (310) 499-2744 today to learn more.

Implied Consent Laws

California also implements “implied consent” laws requiring all drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to BAC testing. In most cases, the driver may choose between a blood or breath test.

If a motorist refuses lawful testing, they will face a $125 fine and a period of license suspension based on any previous refusals:

  • 1st refusal – 1 year
  • 2nd refusal – 2 years
  • 3rd refusal – 3 years

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

One specific category of DUI that California law addresses is gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. This is when DUI or drunk driving causes another person’s death and can also be charged as a murder instead. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a felony that could lead to 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison, as well as driver’s license suspension and up to $10,000 in fines.

Individuals could possibly face a severer sentence of 15 years to life in state prison if they have a prior conviction for any of the following:

  • gross or ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated;
  • vehicular manslaughter while operating a boat;
  • DUI causing injury.

An experienced DUI attorney can potentially help defend against gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges, though. For instance, they could argue that the defendant’s negligence did not cause the alleged victim’s death or that the defendant was facing a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under those circumstances. In any case, it is advised to consult with a legal professional to strategize the most effective and appropriate defense.

Contact Adams Law to Get Started on Your Defense Today

If you are facing DUI charges in Los Angeles, you could be facing years behind bars and thousands in fines. Your future driving privileges may also be revoked, and you will have a mark on your criminal record that will last for 10 years. Adams Law, however, can help you mitigate the consequences as best as possible. Our firm has been defending clients for 8 years in court, and we can think outside the box to develop a compelling defense for you against your charges.

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