DUI Basics - Rogers Legal Group
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04 Jan DUI Basics

In California, there are a few DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws, some of which are punishable as misdemeanors and others that are punishable as felonies.

The misdemeanors are as follows, under CA Vehicle Code §23152:

  • §23152(a): It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
  • §23152(b): It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

Most DUI’s are prosecuted under both code sections, but violators can only be punished for one of them.

DUI felonies in California are enforced under Vehicle Code (VC) §23153 and Penal Code (PC) §§191.5 and 192. VC 23153 is concerned with bodily harm to another person that occurs as a result of driving under the influence, while offenders are charged under PC 191.5 and 192 when there is a death.

Prior to the formation of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980, DUI laws were relatively lax and forgiving. Since then, however, laws have become increasingly strict and California has some of the harshest and most complex DUI laws in the nation. Even worse for DUI defendants is the fact that the Supreme Court has determined that the normal constitutional protections do not apply.

DUI Penalties

Administrative Penalties

Separate from any potential criminal penalties for DUI, there is an automatic administrative license suspension that is levied at the time of arrest for individuals who either blow a 0.08% or refuse to give a breath or blood sample. Practically, this means that your license is taken from you on the spot and, for first time offenses, suspended for a minimum of 4 months. A second DUI offense within 10 years will result in a minimum 1-year license suspension.

Criminal Penalties

First-time DUI offenders that don’t injure or kill anyone can expect to face up to 6 months imprisonment in county jail time, fines and fees that amount to more than $2,100, attendance and completion of an alcohol treatment program (for which you must pay and costs about $500), loss of your drivers license and probation for 3 to 5 years. Any additional DUI convictions within 10 years of the first will impose harsher sanctions, fines and fees.

In the event that another person is killed or injured as a result of driving under the influence, the driver can be found guilty of a felony. As a result, the driver would be sentenced to 1 to 5 years in prison. Prior DUI convictions would increase any prison sentence.

The Bottom Line

Police, prosecutors, judges and insurance companies take DUI crimes extremely seriously and normal constitutional protections do not apply. Effectively, this means that persons suspected of committing a DUI can legally have their blood drawn against their will, with the purpose of preserving evidence before it is destroyed (i.e., before alcohol is broken down by the body), maximum penalties will be sought, harsh sentences will be administered and insurance premiums will double or even triple. To minimize the penalties assessed against a person charged with DUI, it is imperative to acquire competent counsel. The attorneys at Rogers Legal Group have the necessary experience to successfully guide clients through the complexities of a DUI charge. Don’t risk a harsher conviction, contact Rogers Legal Group today for help with your DUI case.


Constance Rogers is an attorney and the founder of Rogers Legal Group. She represents clients in intellectual property, business, estate planning and probate, civil and criminal matters throughout the Coachella Valley.

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