DUI Laws and Punishment in Los Angeles County
The majority of DUI cases will involve two criminal charges: (1) DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs), and (2) driving while having a blood-alcohol level of at least .08% (often referred to as the
per se offense or the
B-count). You can be convicted of both crimes, however you can only receive one punishment — and the penalties are the same. If you admit or are convicted of refusing to take a blood or breath test, you will not be charged with the
per se offense.
A first DUI offense is punishable by a jail term of 4 days to 6 months. The fine, after adding mandatory fees and assessments, is about $1500 but varies slightly from one jurisdiction to another. The court may impose a license suspension of up to 6 months, depending upon the circumstances; this is separate from the automatic DMV administrative suspension of 4 months. Attendance at a state-approved DUI school for three months will be required as a condition of probation and to get the license back; the number of months may be increased if there is a high blood-alcohol level involved. Probation generally runs 3 years in most cases. In some courts, community service, AA, attendance at
victim's panels, and/or an ignition interlock device installation may be required.
If certain facts exist in the cases, the law requires more severe minimum penalties. These so-called
enhancements include refusing to submit to chemical testing, speeding over 20 mph on surface streets or 30 mph on highways (minimum 60-day jail sentence), transporting a child under 14 while committing the offense, or having one or more prior convictions within the previous 10 years. If there are 1 or 2 earlier convictions, the amount of jail and the length of suspension are increased considerably — and 3 or more prior convictions changes the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony (possible state prison sentence).
In separate and unrelated administrative proceedings, if you do not request a hearing from the DMV or if at the hearing the DMV finds the allegation of driving while having .08% blood alcohol or refusing to take a test to be true, your license will be suspended. (See the