Living a perfect life is simply not possible, and virtually everyone in California has made a decision at some point in their lives that they now regret. However, some errors in judgment are treated much more seriously than others. For example, a person who is speeding a few miles per hour over the speed limit might receive a traffic ticket, while a person accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol could be charged with a DUI. This is a very serious offense, so it is important for anyone facing this type of charge to better understand the charge.
There is a legal limit of intoxication that California drivers cannot pass. Drivers over the age of 21 are considered to be drunk driving when they have a blood alcohol concentration — BAC — of or higher than the .08% legal limit. If a driver registers a BAC of .16% or above, it is very likely that authorities will pursue an aggravated DUI charge. Since there is zero tolerance for underage drivers, anyone under the age of 21 with a .02% BAC can be charged.
Licenses are usually suspended or even revoked following an arrest. The minimum period of suspension for a first offense is six months. A second offense will result in a minimum of a two year suspension or revocation, while it can last as long as 10 years for a third offense. Drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing may also have their licenses suspended. Fines can range from $2,000 to $18,000 depending on the situation, and a third-time offender could spend up to 16 months behind bars.
California state law treats DUI charges very seriously. This does not mean that a defendant who is accused of drunk driving must resign him or herself to fines, jail time and loss of driving privileges. Instead, defendants who are interested in asserting their rights and minimizing potential criminal consequences are well advised to speak with an experienced attorney.