The penalties for driving under the influence vary depending on the number of a driver’s prior convictions for this offense.

A first-time violation can be punished by a jail term of not more than six months, a penalty ranging from $1,000 to $2,600, and suspension or restriction of driving privileges for six months. Drivers with three DUI convictions within seven years normally receive jail terms of not less than 120 days, nor more than one year and a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,600. The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked for a period of three years.


Drivers charged with a DUI must appear in court for an arraignment and may be requested to post bail. Bail can vary from $300 to $15,000. Whenever the possible sentences include jail time, the court, upon request, will appoint an attorney for drivers who cannot afford to hire one.

DUI cases are heard in Criminal Court.

– Reprinted with permission from the Judicial Council of California’s Guide to California Courts

The fines and penalties stated here were in effect at the time of printing but may be subject to revision with a change in the law.