California considers motorists to be driving while intoxicated if they violate California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and violate California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher). This also applies to motorists who drive under the influence of drugs or the combined influence of alcohol and drugs. Drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.05 or higher violate California Vehicle Code § 23140.
Out-of-state drivers are also subject to these laws. However, motorists who hold a driver’s license in a state other than California face a slightly different procedure when accused of driving while intoxicated on a California road or highway.
If a motorist is arrested in California for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, the officer will confiscate the driver’s California driver’s license (if the driver is a California resident) and replace it with a temporary license, which will expire in 30 days when a suspension of the individual’s license goes into effect. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is immediately notified. Drivers have ten days from the date of their arrest to appeal or challenge a license suspension.
If the driver is an out-of-state driver, the officer will not seize the motorist’s driver’s license but instead provide a notice that the motorist’s privilege to drive in California will be suspended in 30 days. Both the residents of California and other states have a right to a DMV hearing. The immediate benefit of requesting a DMV hearing is that the license or driving privilege suspension is postponed pending the outcome of the hearing, which may not occur until several months later.
In addition to completion of a DUI school, other penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in California may include:
- 3 to 5 years of DUI probation,
- fines and penalty assessments totaling between $1,500 and $2,000 (depending on the county),
- a 6-month driver’s license suspension,
- installation of an ignition interlock device for six months,
- up to 6 months in county jail, and
- work release.
Out-of-state residents who are convicted of a DUI in California may seek a “1650 waiver” to complete any court-ordered DUI school in their home state. The California DMV’s DUI program requires that drivers enroll in and complete an in-person California DUI school if convicted of a California DUI or “wet” driving offense such as:
- California Vehicle Code § 23152(a), driving under the influence;
- California Vehicle Code § 23152(b), driving with a BAC of .08% or higher;
- California Vehicle Code § 23140, underage DUI (BAC of .05% or higher); or
- California Vehicle Code § 23103.5, “wet reckless.”
If the out-of-state driver fails to obtain the waiver, his or her home state may refuse to issue a license to the resident until completion of the DMV’s DUI program. This would require the defendant to travel back-and-forth to California until completion of DUI school. The 1650 waiver may only be granted once in the motorist’s life. If the waiver is given, the non-California resident does not have to complete DUI school but cannot drive in California for three years after the waiver is granted.
The attorney that any defendant hires may be crucial to achieving the best possible result. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.