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Suffering a DUI conviction has severe penalties — one of which is losing your privilege to drive for, at minimum, six months. Learn what’s at risk when you’re charged with DUI.


Some drivers may be unaware of the consequences of a DUI conviction. They know they’re not supposed to drink and drive. But who hasn’t had a drink to celebrate a special occasion? Or to unwind after a long week? An occasional indulgence doesn’t make one an alcoholic.

If arrested for DUI, such drivers may readily admit their mistake. They may feel, however, that their conduct, though regrettable, should not be punished too harshly. After all, this was but a one-time misstep. No one was hurt and no property was damaged. Under these circumstances, the consequences for a DUI conviction can’t be that bad, right?

Immediate Consequences of DUI

Here is a list of just some of the consequences for a first-time DUI conviction:

  • Jail. You will be sentenced to jail for at least four days[i] (if you are granted probation, you may be sentenced to jail for at least two days.)[ii]
  • Fines. You will have to pay fines and penalty assessments that, when combined, can climb to several thousand dollars.[iii]
  • License suspension. Upon conviction, your license will be suspended for, at minimum six months.[iv] This means that you cannot drive at all during these six months. Driving on a suspended license is, itself, a crime![v] (However, a driver may be eligible to apply for a restricted license.[vi])
  • DUI education program. You must complete, at minimum, a three-month First-Offender DUI Program.[vii] You may also be referred to your county’s Alcohol Assessment Program.[viii]
  • Possible impoundment of the vehicle. The vehicle you were driving may be impounded for up to 30 days at the registered owner’s expense.[ix]
  • Possible installation of an Interlock Ignition Device. You may be ordered to install such a device, known as an “IID.” An IID is a breath-measuring device that attaches to your vehicle and requires you to blow into it — in order to demonstrate that you have no alcohol in your blood — before you can drive.[x]

Additionally, depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may suffer additional penalties if your are, ultimately, convicted of DUI.

For instance, if you, at the time of arrest …If convicted of DUI, your sentence will be enhanced by …
Refused the post-arrest chemical breath testAn additional two days in jail [xi]
Had a blood alcohol level of .15 or higherDenial of probation or harsher penalties (such as a longer DUI class or more days in jail) [xii]
Had also been driving recklesslyAn additional 60 days in jail [xiii]
Had a child younger than 14 in the vehicleAn additional two days in jail [xiv]

A DUI conviction can strain your finances, limit your ability to drive, and put you at risk for jail — but those are just the immediate consequences.

Long-Term Consequences of DUI

The reality is that a DUI conviction can adversely affect you long after your criminal case is over: higher car insurance premiums, a risk of being arrested for the crime of driving on a suspended license, potential loss of your current job, harm to your future employment prospects (especially if you have a professional license). You’ll also face even more severe penalties than those described above if you’re arrested for or convicted of DUI again in the next 10 years.[xv]

Some may consider the consequences of a DUI to be harsh or unfair.[xvi] This may be especially true for drivers who were arrested for DUI not after driving erratically or causing a collision, but after having a couple of drinks at a social gathering. Such drivers may dispute an allegation that they were driving under the influence because, they believe, that their steady driving is proof that their ability to drive was not impaired.

But the law doesn’t just prohibit impaired driving[xvii], it also makes it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08, regardless of whether a driver exhibits dangerous driving behavior (such as drifting between lanes or swerving).[xviii] A driver whose blood alcohol level is .08 is legally intoxicated and most drivers, according to the DMV, reach that prohibited level after having two or three drinks.


California Dept. of Motor Vehicles

Ask a Professional for Help with Your DUI Case

The penalties for a DUI are harsh and long-lasting. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you need a legal professional who understands the risks that you will face, who will advocate on your behalf, and who will do his best to protect your privilege to drive.

Michael J. Ocampo, Attorney at Law, is a skilled attorney and a former deputy district attorney. Michael will guide you through the stressful court process and will strive to achieve the best outcome for your unique situation.

Michael’s services are reasonably priced and are available at a flat rate; pricing is designed to help you avoid the unpredictability of hourly billing.

Contact Michael at (714) 451-6834 to schedule a no-charge, initial consultation.


[i] Vehicle Code §23536.

[ii] Vehicle Code §23538.

[iii] Vehicle Code §23536(a); Penal Code §§1464, 1465.7, 1202.4(b)(1); Government Code §76000.

[iv] Vehicle Code §13352(a)(1).

[v] Vehicle Code §§14601.5(a), (d)(1); 13353.2(a).

[vi] If eligible, a driver convicted of DUI may apply for a restricted license that, after a 30-day license suspension, allows him to drive, but for only two purposes: (1) to and from work; and (2) to and from the driver’s DUI program. The restricted license will last for five months. Vehicle Code §§13352.4, 13353.7(a)(3).

[vii] Vehicle Code §23538(b)(1).

[viii] Vehicle Code §23646(b)(2).

[ix] Vehicle Code §23594(a).

[x] Vehicle Code §23575(a)(1).

[xi] Vehicle Code §§23577(a)(1), 23538(a)(1).

[xii] Vehicle Code §§23578, 23538(b)(1).

[xiii] Vehicle Code §§23582(a), (b).

[xiv] Vehicle Code §23572(a)(1).

[xv] The penalties relating to the driver’s license and jail time will be harsher if the driver has suffered a prior DUI-related conviction or suspension in the last 10 years. See Vehicle Code §§13353(a)(2), (a)(3); 23577(a)(2)-(5).

[xvi] Nevertheless, the consequences of a DUI — harsh as they may seem to some — are the law and

reflect a strong policy against drinking and driving because of its potential to cause an astonishing number of deaths and personal injuries as well as significant property damage. Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990) 496 U.S. 444, 451.

[xvii] Vehicle Code §23152(a), CALCRIM No. 2110.

[xviii] Vehicle Code §23152(b), CALCRIM No. 2111.