California Vehicle Code 23152(e) states “it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” For purposes of a DUI, drugs include illegal drugs, AND also any substance that impairs a person. This includes over-the-counter medicine, cough medicine, prescription medication, medical marijuana, or even herbal supplements.

Marijuana is still considered a drug for purposes of a DUI. Although medical marijuana was decriminalized, it remains illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is traceable in an individual's urine and bloodstream for days or weeks after use. Blood tests may indicate that the driver has THC in their system. This can lead to a DUI arrest even if the driver was not actually under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.

DUI -Prescription Medication
Just like with medical marijuana, it does not matter if you have a valid prescription for a medication. If the drug has an impairing effect on your ability to drive, you can still face a DUI. Common medications including Valium, Ativan, Xanax or Percocet may lead to impaired driving and a prescription drug DUI. If a driver is found to be in possession of prescription medications without a valid prescription, they can face additional criminal charges.

After Arrest, Chemical Blood or Urine Testing
After being arrested on suspicion of DUI, the police may request that the driver submit to a blood or urine test. Various testing methods can give a wide range of results: an impaired driver may be clear of any drugs while a sober driver may show drugs in their system. There is no numerical baseline limit of drugs in the system to establish per se intoxication as there is with alcohol.

Even if you are sober and have only used prescription medication, you may still be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.


California has a “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers.

Any detectable level of alcohol is a violation.
For young drivers, BAC of only 0.01% or higher is DUI.

Under 18 drivers convicted for DUI lose their driver’s license for a full year, or until they turn 18, whichever is a longer.
Drivers older than 18 but under 21, violating California’s zero tolerance law results in a one-year suspension of the driver’s license.

Underage drivers with BAC greater than 0.05% face one-year driver’s license suspension, fines and mandatory DUI School.
Underage drivers with BAC greater than 0.08%, face possible jail time, greater fines and fees, a suspended driver’s license, mandatory DUI school, probation and other penalties.

California’s “implied consent” law for underage drivers means they have given implied consent to have breath or blood tested after a DUI arrest. Refusal to consent to a chemical test results in a one year suspension of a license.

Some colleges take additional disciplinary action even if the DUI occurred off campus. Prospective students may be required to list a DUI on their college, graduate school, or law school applications.

After a DUI, underage drivers are required to get an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility and usually face higher insurance premiums. Some auto insurance companies may not renew an underage driver’s policy after they are convicted of a DUI.


A minor who suffers a one year suspension after a DUI conviction or a DMV determination that a minor had .05%  or .01% blood alcohol level in his blood may apply for a Critical Need Driver’s License.

An application can be filed on DMV Form DS 694 with the DMV and mailed to Sacramento with a fee and an SR-22.  An application is NOT automatically granted.  The DMV gives stronger consideration where there is a specific critical need for a driver’s license, when other transportation methods are inadequate, and when there are supportive documents.

A critical need application can be only approved once in a lifetime. A repeat offender can not get approval of the critical need driver’s license application. Refusal or failure to complete a chemical test will deem one ineligible for a critical need application.

dui under 21 & critical need

dmv: suspension and hearings

Nothing in this publication or website, testimonials, reviews or endorsements, should be construed as a guarantee, warranty or prediction of the outcome of your case. This website is not a substitute for legal advice and does not, in any way, establish an attorney-client relationship between you and The Law Group of Thomas M. Spivack, PC.

After arrest, you will usually be asked to take a blood or breath test at the police station, jail or hospital.

Refusing the chemical test may result in tougher California DUI penalties and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

IF YOU REFUSED TO SUBMIT TO THE BREATHALYZER OR BLOOD TEST then under California’s Implied Consent Law, your license will be suspended for at least one year or more depending on the circumstances and prior offenses. 

You are NOT eligible to receive a restricted license or driving privileges if you refused to take the breathalyzer or blood test.

Upon release you should be given a citation to appear in court and a pink temporary license. Your California Driver’s License is mailed to the DMV.

dui penalites


​​When someone is charged with DUI, a separate action called the Administrative Per Se Hearing is triggered with the California DMV to determine if a license should be suspended. 


The California DMV will to try to suspend your license INDEPENDENT of what happens in court.

The California DMV will NOT permit you to request a hearing after 10 days. If you do not make this request, your right to a hearing will be waived and your license will AUTOMATICALLY be suspended and take effect after 30 days of your arrest.

All other fines, penalties, or jail time will be determined in a separate action by the California Superior Court - Criminal Division.

If the California DMV finds against you, your license will be suspended shortly after the hearing. 

If the DMV finds in your favor, no license suspension is imposed BUT a DUI conviction in Court can trigger a separate suspension.

If your license is suspended for DUI, the California DMV may order additional penalties, fees, driving restrictions, license suspensions, or an Ignition Interlock Device installed into your vehicle.

DUI Probation




These resources are for informational purposes ONLY. 

We do not recommend or endorse any specific Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction, Education or Treatment Program. ​

Enrollment is by court or DMV referral ONLY. 

Completion of a program may NOT impact the outcome of DMV decisions.

DUI education program providers must be licensed by the State of California. 

Licensed providers conduct only IN-PERSON programs.

Length and cost of your DUI school program depends on the specific DUI offense and the provider. 

This information is subject to change by the State of California.

You Do NOT Have to Be Driving a Car to be DUI 

Any vehicle operation under the influence is drunk driving even if you are riding a bike, driving a golf cart, using a lawnmower or forklift, and even if you are parked in your own driveway sleeping it off - and under the influence of alcohol. 

All you have to do is be in a position to operate a vehicle.Type your paragraph here.

DUI penalties increase with each subsequent conviction if committed within 7 years. 

DUIs are generally charged as misdemeanors but may be charged as felonies if you caused an accident with a serious injury or fatality or you committed your third misdemeanor DUI offense in 10 years.

Although you could face up to one year for a misdemeanor conviction, first offenders generally either spend 4 days in jail or perform community service and pay a fine of around $1,500. You must participate in a 3-month alcohol education program and some local courts may require you to install an ignition interlock system. 

Your driver’s license is suspended for 4 months or one year if you refused BAC testing.

Aggravating circumstances will enhance your penalties. These include having a BAC of .15%, driving with a child 14 years old or younger in your car, refusing a BAC test or traveling 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Felony DUI – Death, Serious Bodily Injury or Accident
A DUI that involves some vehicle or criminal violation which causes an accident, bodily injury or death to another person, may be charged as a felony DUI even if the person is a passenger or pedestrian and even if the accident simply damages a stop sign. Penalties for an injury or accident related DUI can be significantly more severe than standard drunk driving. ​Penalties, fines, classes, license suspension and jail or prison time are increased for a felony DUI or a DUI causing injury.

the dui arrest 

The Law Group of



Call 24/7 • Free Consultation

​​​​A SR-22 certificate is required for all persons convicted of a DUI in court and/or suspended by the DMV.  A SR-22 “Proof of Insurance” is a certificate that must be filed by an insurance company stating a person has the required minimum auto liability insurance.

Proof of Insurance and an SR-22 must be maintained for three years from the date the original suspension would have ended.

Call 24/7 • Free Consultation

dui education & Treatment Programs

Type your paragraph here.

A conviction for DUI after 2007 shows up on your DMV driving record for a period of 10 years.

Most DUI probation terms prohibit refusing a chemical test after a subsequent DUI arrest and prohibit driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in the blood.

Failure to follow the terms of a DUI probation results in a DUI probation violation.

Commercial drivers are treated more severly than regular drivers and held to a higher standard of sobriety for DUI.

BAC of 0.04% or greater results in a commercial DUI violation.

License Suspension
For commercial drivers, a DUI in their own vehicle or in a commercial vehicle can lead to a suspended license.
Even if they do not get a DUI, but simply refuse to submit to a chemical test their driver's license can be suspended for a year.

For a commercial driver, A SECOND DUI AT ANY TIME can result in a lifetime disqualification from holding a commercial driver’s license.

California DUI Drug Laws


insurance & tHE sr-22

restricted license


During sentencing, the judge will order you to show "proof of enrollment" in your DUI school by a specific date. 

Once you enroll, the provider typically sends a proof of enrollment certificate to both the court and the DMV. You need to follow up and confirm proof has been sent. The judge will also order you to complete your DUI school by a specific date. 

Generally, your DUI school provider will provide the court and the DMV with a certificate of completion when you successfully complete your course. You need to confirm the certificate has been sent to the Court.

You must make up any missed sessions before you will be issued a certificate of completion.

You violate probation if you fail to complete your court ordered DUI education program and the DMV will NOT re-issue you a license.​​​​

​​You may be eligible for a restricted license after being convicted in court or suspended by the DMV.  

If your license is suspended, you MUST obey the suspension. Some people drive during their DUI license suspension. We strongly advise against it. Driving on a suspended license in California is a crime and can lead to mandatory jail time, a probation violation, serious penalties and a longer license suspension.

If you do receive a driver’s license suspension, often you can apply for a restricted license.. This allows you to drive to and from work related activities and any court or DMV imposed alcohol program.

Most people who get a DUI lose their driver’s license for a period of time that can range from 30 days to several years. This will depend on whether they have prior DUI or wet reckless convictions and whether they refused the DUI blood/breath tests.

If you qualify for a Restricted License, you must:

1. Show proof of enrollment in an approved DUI program

2. Show proof of financial responsibility (SR-22)

3. Pay the DMV a re-issue fee​​