A Comprehensive Overview of DUI Laws Los Angeles


DUI laws in Los Angeles are notoriously harsh, with offenders facing hefty fines and several months in jail for a first conviction of driving under the influence. Learn more in this comprehensive overview.

Los Angeles DUI Law Guide

If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you may be looking for answers to your questions regarding the potential laws, fines, and other penalties for a DUI arrest or DUI conviction. This guide provides you with information that you may need regarding your situation and explains your rights.


The Basics of DUI Laws in Los Angeles

DUI refers to driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated is considered a severe offense in most states. Why is it considered a serious offense? Simply put, driving under the influence usually results in impaired judgment and driving capacity, leading to endangering one’s life and other road users.

The law prohibits motorists from operating a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications. Getting convicted for DUI usually results in severe penalties, determined by the extent of the crime.


Can You Drink and Drive in LA?

California’s DUI laws in Los Angeles prohibit all drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and passengers from keeping an alcoholic beverage inside the vehicle in an open container while the car is being driven. Failure to adhere to this may lead to an arrest and other severe penalties.

What Happens When You Break DUI Laws in Los Angeles?

Drinking and driving is not uncommon, as many people get behind the wheel after a drink or three and think they are perfectly safe to drive. Unfortunately, the laws in Los Angeles don’t agree with this. Failure to comply with the DUI laws usually results in very harsh consequences.

Chances are, if you receive a DUI conviction, you will face jail time and a driver’s license suspension. Getting yourself a DUI attorney will help you minimize your chances of facing these severe consequences.


Processes Involved After Being Arrested with DUI in Los Angeles

The California DUI process is complex. This is because the DMV and the courts are usually involved.

Process Involved After Being Arrested for DUI in Los Angeles

Below is an overview of what you should expect if you have been arrested for a suspected DUI in Los Angeles County.

Fighting for Your License

As soon as you get arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles, CA, you will usually have ten days to request a hearing from the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or risk a driver’s license suspension. If you request a hearing, you will be granted permission to remain with your license until the hearing date. However, you will still have to make a case. For assistance in handling the DMV hearing, it’s advisable to get a DUI lawyer to handle it for you.

The hearing usually takes place after several months. This means if you are lucky enough to win your criminal case in the meantime, then you won’t have to attend the hearing at all.

Criminal Case Proceedings

Once you are arrested for a DUI, you will also have to have a hearing with a judge. This is where you can suitably enter your appeal. It may take several weeks from the date you were arrested, but it’s essential to get a lawyer before the initial hearing.

In the meantime, your criminal defense attorney will execute a thorough investigation, file legal motions, and have a negotiation with the prosecutor. This usually takes a couple of weeks and can go up to months until your trial date.

Penalties for DUI in Los Angeles

Being convicted of a DUI is something you should always try to evade. The penalties are usually very severe and may significantly impact your life in many ways, including your employment opportunities, for a very long time.

This is where a DUI attorney comes in to give you legal advice and the needed assistance. With the right DUI defense attorney on your side, it’s possible to avoid some or all of the DUI penalties associated with DUI convictions.


What Is the Penalty for Drunk Driving in Los Angeles?

Here are some of the California DUI penalties one can be sentenced with depending on the number of times one has been convicted.

First Time DUI

  • Summary probation of three years
  • A $390 fine including penalty evaluations
  • An AB541 drug or alcohol program for three months
  • A six-month California driver’s license suspension

For a first offense, DUI offenders can usually continue to drive if they have agreed to the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for six months. Drivers can obtain a restricted driver’s license after completing a mandatory 30 day-period of no driving.

Second Time DUI

  • Summary probation of three to five years
  • A fine of $390 including penalty evaluations
  • A mandatory minimum of ninety-six hours to a maximum of one year in the county jail. It has been the policy of prosecutors in LA county to seek ninety days of jail time on a second DUI offense.

For a second DUI, offenders will again be mandated to attend driver’s education courses as well as have an IID installed for a whole year.

Third Time DUI

  • Summary probation of three to five years
  • A fine of $390 including penalty evaluations
  • A mandatory minimum of 120 days in the county jail to a maximum of one year
  • Insertion of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for two years
  • A suspension of the driver’s license for three years

Third DUI conviction will mandate DUI offenders to attend a DUI school for up to two and a half years. However, a Los Angeles County judge may also impose additional penalties, including community service or attendance at AA meetings.

What Is the Law for Drunk Driving?

A DUI in Los Angeles will be typically prosecuted when a person is above the legal limit. A permissible blood alcohol content is 0.08. Therefore, if your blood alcohol concentration is above the allowable level, then it’s likely that you will face criminal penalties in court as well as administrative driver’s license suspension.

However, if you want to obtain your restricted license or need further assistance with DUI charges, you can contact our DUI attorneys for assistance.


What to Know About DUI Laws Los Angeles

There are several laws regarding DUI in Los Angeles. Under California laws, it is illegal and considered a misdemeanor for anyone over 21 years to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It’s also illegal for anyone younger than 21 to drive a car with a BAC of 0.01 or higher.

But, under California law, a DUI offense that involves certain aggravating factors can also be a felony. More precisely, Southern California drunk driving charges are prosecuted under California Vehicle Code section 23152 or 23153. Depending on whether somebody is injured in the accident a drunk driver has caused, DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony DUI. Also, an individual could face felony DUI charges depending on the prior DUI convictions.

Being arrested for DUI will cause you to pay high fines plus penalty assessments based on the number of prior DUIs on your record and whether anyone was injured. Penalty and assessments can add up to nearly $2000 for a second DUI and approximately $2500 for a third DUI conviction.

Facts and Statistics on DUI Laws in Los Angeles County

The DWI statistics usually reveal the extent of drunk driving or driving while intoxicated and its consequences in Los Angeles. It shows the number of traffic fatalities, alcohol-related deaths, and fatalities in crashes every year.

From 2003 to 2010, the rate of DUI arrests in California per every 100,000 licensed drivers hovered at 800-900 arrests. In 2011, the arrest rate began to decrease. In 2012 and 2013, the rates dropped radically to 651. Since then, the arrest rate has been dropping, and this is majorly attributed to the growing use of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.



Driving while intoxicated is considered a severe offense in LA. It usually results in dire consequences. To avoid facing harsh penalties and fines that may significantly impact your life, it’s important to avoid operating a vehicle under the influence. However, mistakes happen, so if you face a DUI charge, you should contact an attorney for assistance.

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