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The state of California has implemented some of the harshest DUI laws, even for a first time offender. The penalties and consequences of a DUI on your record can be severe and long lasting. If you are pulled over for a DUI, it is in your best interest to remain calm and try not to do or say anything that would implicate you with guilt. Keep in mind that if a person has already been convicted of a first DUI offense in California, the penalties can be even more severe with each subsequent DUI.

After an arrest for a DUI, the officer is required by law to immediately forward a copy of the completed notice of suspension or revocation form and any driver license taken into possession, with a sworn report to the DMV. The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.

You have the right to request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order. If the review shows there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside. Below is a brief discussion of California Misdemeanor DUI laws:

Punishment and Sentencing for a First Offense Misdemeanor California DUI

When convicted of driving under the influence for the first time, the potential penalties are as follows:

  • Informal probation for three to five years;
  • Up to six months in a county jail;
  • Fines between $390-$1,000;
  • A three or nine-month court-approved alcohol and/or drug education program;
  • A six to ten-month driver’s license suspension that generally may be converted to a “restricted license”.  A restricted license enables you to drive during the course of your employment, and to and from work, school, and/or California DUI School.

Penalties and Punishment for a Second Offense Misdemeanor California DUI

A second driving under the influence conviction within ten years will trigger the following sentence

  • Three to five years of informal probation;
  • A minimum of 96 hours to a maximum of one year in a county jail;
  • Fines between $390-$1,000;
  • Completion of an 18-month or 30-month court-approved California DUI School;
  • A two-year driver’s license suspension that, after twelve months, may be converted to a restricted license.


Penalties and Sentencing for a Third Offense Misdemeanor California DUI

If you are convicted of drunk driving for a third time within ten years, you face the following California DUI punishment:

  • Between three to five years of informal probation;
  • A minimum of 120 days to a maximum of one-year in a county jail;
  • Fines between $390-$1,000;
  • Completion of a 30-month court-approved DUI education program;
  • A three year California driver’s license revocation which, after 18 months, may be converted to a restricted license;
  • Designation as a “habitual traffic offender” by the DMV.