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DUI Penalties

Penalties for DUI convictions in California depend heavily on the circumstances. In particular, California uses a system that increases the punishment for every DUI occurring within a ten year ‘look-back’ period. In addition to previous California DUI charges, the look-back period will also include out of state charges that would, if committed in California, amount to a DUI.

Generally, California DUI charges will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, in some instances the charge will be escalated to a felony. Regardless of type of charge, a California DUI comes with stiff penalties.


With a first offense California DUI misdemeanor, you could be facing an informal probation period of up to five years, six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, mandatory alcohol/drug education program, and a ten month license suspension. When it is your second offense, in addition to the other first offense factors, you could face a minimum 96 hours to a maximum one year in jail, required completion of 18 – 30 month court approved California DUI school and a two year suspension of your license. On a third offense you will be considered a ‘habitual traffic offender’ and be sentenced to a minimum 120 days in jail, along with the required completion of a 30 month DUI education program and a three year license revocation.

Of course when your DUI involves such aggravating circumstances such as damage to property or injury to a person, the penalties only intensify. More so, California law recognizes the following as aggravating circumstances:

  • A blood alcohol level of .15% or higher
  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test
  • Driving at excessive speeds
  • Having children under the age of 14 as passengers
  • Being under the age of 21


When you have more than three DUI convictions within a ten year period, the charge will be escalated to a felony charge. As a felony, your punishment could include:

  • 16 months to 3 years in a California prison
  • A fine of $390 to $1,000.00
  • A four year revocation of your driver’s license

If the California DUI caused a death, you could face life in prison.

Your California DUI Attorney

The Law Offices of Jonathan I. Kelman specialize in defending LA DUI charges. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, seek the support of an attorney practicing only in criminal defense. Remember, when your future is on the line, call the Law Offices of Jonathan I. Kelman at 310.286.1218 for your free initial consultation.

Office Locations

12711 Ventura Blvd.
Ste. 410
Studio City, CA 91604

11755 Wilshire Boulevard
15th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90025

106 1/2 Judge John Aiso
Ste. #110
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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