Caution while driving
Police investigation. When an officer detains you on suspicion of driving while impaired, the officer will ask you to
perform field sobriety tests. If these tests indicate impairment, the officer will arrest you. At the police station, the officer
will ask you to submit a breath sample. You may elect to submit a blood sample instead of a breath sample. Note that if
you do not cooperate with the officer, the prosecution will use your non-cooperation against you in court. In addition, the
DMV will suspend your license for one year with no opportunity for a restricted license.
Two proceedings. California impaired driving arrests trigger two proceedings: the first at the Department of Motor
Vehicles (DMV), and the second in a criminal court. The DMV will suspend your license on the 30th day following your arrest
if you do not request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest. The DMV will suspend your license if you lose the hearing.
Note that motorists licensed in other states must also request a California DMV hearing to protect their driving privileges.
For a first offense, the DMV will suspend your license for a minimum of four months, but may permit you to drive as
directed by the court.
The criminal charges. Following an impaired driving arrest, prosecutors will allege (1) driving under the influence
(DUI) and (2) driving while intoxicated (DWI). To prove DUI, prosecutors will rely on the arresting officer's testimony
regarding your driving and behavior while detained. To prove DWI, prosecutors will allege that you submitted a breath or
blood sample that indicated your blood alcohol content (BAC) measured .08 percent or greater.
Criminal penalties for first offense. Upon a conviction for DUI or DWI, if the court grants probation (3 to 5 year
term), the court will require you to (1) serve 48 hours to 6 months in jail, (2) pay a $390 to $1000 fine, and (3) attend an
alcohol/drug treatment program (3 or 6 months). If the court does not grant probation, it will sentence you to (1) serve 96
hours to 6 months in jail, (2) pay a $390 to $1000 fine, and (3) abide by a 6 month license suspension.
Criminal penalties for second offense in 10 years. Upon a second conviction if the court grants probation, the
court will require you to serve (1) 10 days to 1 year in jail, and (2) pay a $390 to $1000 fine, or (1) serve 96 hours to 1
year in jail, and (2) attend an alcohol/drug program (18 or 30 months). Under both options, the court will order installation
of an interlocking device for up to 3 years. The court and/or the DMV will suspend your license for 2 years, but may permit
a restricted license after the first year of suspension. If the court does not grant probation, it will sentence you to (1) serve
90 days to 1 year in jail, (2) pay a $390 to $1000 fine, and (3) abide by a 2 year license suspension.
Felony charges. Prosecutors (1) will charge an alleged fourth DUI or DWI as a felony, (2) may charge an alleged DUI
or DWI as a felony when the driver injures someone, and (3) will charge an alleged DUI or DWI as a felony when the
driver has been charged with felony DUI or DWI within the past 10 years.
An arrest for impaired driving can result in serious consequences.