What is the Sentence for Driving under the Influence in California?

What is the Sentence for Driving under the Influence in California?

In most cases if you are convicted of driving under the influence in violation of section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code the court places you on probation. The probationary term is 3 years. This probation is not formal, but informal, which means there is no probation officer and the probation is supervised by the court. What your actual sentence will be depends on a number of factors. Those factors are the facts of your particular case and most importantly your blood alcohol level. If your case is settled with a plea bargain with the DA, then whatever their offer is to settle is a starting point. Usually your attorney will make a counter offer. Sometimes if the DA’s offer is less than generous, an indicated sentence from the judge is possible. While custody time is not required for a first time DUI, most courts will impose some time in custody, or in an alternate sentencing program like electronic monitoring or a work program. How much time you receive is always negotiable.

cops with motorcycles

When you are placed on probation the following mandatory terms and conditions will be imposed by the court as well as any other terms the courts deems appropriate.

  1. A minimum fine of $390 up to a maximum fine of $1000; and
  2. While a court is not required to impose a jail sentence it may impose one of 48 hours up to the maximum of 6 months.1  If there is a refusal to take a chemical test to determine blood alcohol level or the presence of drugs then a 48 hour minimum sentence is a required.2
  3. A six month driver’s license suspension;3  after the suspension period is over in order to reinstate a driver’s license there must be proof of insurance and completion of an alcohol program submitted to DMV;4  DMV upon request will issue a restricted driver’s license to drive to and from work, during the course of employment, and to an alcohol program.5
  4. Enroll in and complete an alcohol program.6

If any of the terms and conditions of probation are violated the court will revoke probation and impose sentence, or in most cases reinstate probation with additional terms and conditions sometimes including additional custody time.7

Police car

There are other mandatory terms and conditions which will be imposed under section 23600 of the California Vehicle Code.

  1. Not drive with any alcohol in your system.
  2. Not refuse to take a blood alcohol test if ask to by a law enforcement officer.
  3. No drive without a valid driver’s license
  4. Obey all Laws.

In those rare instances where a person is not placed on probation the sentence for a first time DUI under section 23152 is:

Cop
  1. Commitment a county jail for at least 96 hours or no more than 6 months, and by a fine of a minimum of $390 and a maximum of $1,000 with,
  2. At least 48 hours of imprisonment must be continuous;8  and
  3. A six month driver’s license suspension will be imposed.9
  4. After the 6 month suspension period is over to reinstate a driver’s license there must be proof of insurance and completion of the alcohol program submitted to DMV.10
  5. During the suspension period DMV, upon request, will issue a restricted driver’s license to drive to and from work, during the course of employment, and to an alcohol program.11




1 Section 23538(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
2 Section 23577(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
3 Sections 13352(a)(1) or 13352.1 of the California Vehicle Code
4 Section 23538(b) of the California Vehicle Code
5 Section 13352.4(a) of the California Vehicle Code
6 Sections 23538(b), 23598 of the California Vehicle Code
7 Section 23602 of the California Vehicle Code
8 Section 23561(a) if the California Vehicle Code
9 Sections 13352(a)(1), 13352(a)(1), 23536(c) of the California Vehicle Code
10 Section 23538(b) of the California Vehicle Code
11 Section 13352.4(a) of the California Vehicle Code