It is illegal in the state of California to operate a motorized vehicle if you are 21 years or younger and your blood alcohol concentration is 0.01% or higher. It is also illegal for any driver to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Drivers operating a commercial vehicle may not drive with a BAC of 0.04% or higher, and drivers under the age of 21 may not have unsealed beer, wine or liquor in their car while they are driving alone. If you are arrested for any of the offenses you could be charged DUI or minor in possession. Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, If I am arrested and convicted for a California DUI will I have to go to jail?
First California DUI
If you are arrested for DUI in California you will be fined at least $390 up to $1,000, you will have your license suspended for six months (with the potential option to get a restricted license for work) and you will have to spend at least 96 hours in jail, up to a maximum of 6 months. So to answer the users question, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, even if it is your first DUI arrest, you will have to spend some time in jail.
Second California DUI
If you are arrested a second time for a California DUI the penalties will be much more severe. For instance, jail time will be increased to at least 90 days up to one year. You will have to pay fines of $390 up to $1,000 (plus penalties), and your license will be suspended for one year. In some cases the courts may allow you to install an Ignition Interlock Device which may allow you to get your license back sooner.
Third California DUI
A third California DUI will result in at least 120 days in jail, up to one year. Fines will remain comparable to the first and second DUI convictions, but you can expect to have your license suspended for 2 years. The state will also label you a habitual traffic offender which could have serious ramifications for insurance and other licensing issues.
Although many drivers seem to be most concerned with whether or not they will serve jail time following a California DUI, there are other penalties which can be just as severe. Although California does allow drivers to expunge their DUI conviction, many states do not. In many cases, having a DUI remain on a driving record is more problematic than a day or two in jail. Other drivers will also find that having their license suspended for one or two years is also worse than spending two days jail.
The bottom line is drinking and driving is a serious offense. Drivers arrested for DUI no longer receive a slight slap on the wrist. State legislatures have passed strong laws which are meant to punish and deter drivers from drinking and driving in the future. These penalties can include time in jail even for the first DUI conviction.