Second-Offense DUI in California

Read about the administrative and criminal penalties for a second-offense DUI in California.

By , Attorney

The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in California depend on how many prior convictions the driver has. This article covers the basics of California's DUI laws and the penalties and consequences for a second DUI conviction. (Also, read about the consequences of a first and third DUI conviction.)

California's DUI Law

You can be convicted of a DUI in California if you drive:

However, California has different laws that apply to DUIs on bikes and scooters.

What's Considered a Second DUI in California

For most purposes, a DUI is considered a "second offense" if you have one prior DUI conviction that occurred within the past ten years. Typically, out-of-state DUI convictions are also counted.

Administrative License Suspensions for a Second DUI

For most crimes, there aren't any formal penalties unless you're actually convicted of the offense (either by entering a plea or being found guilty at trial). With DUIs it's different. If you're lawfully arrested for drunk driving, there can be administrative consequences—such as license suspension and fees—regardless of whether you're ultimately convicted of a DUI.

If you've been convicted or had your license suspended for a DUI within the past ten years the administrative license suspension will be:

  • one year if you failed a test with a BAC of .08% or more, or
  • two years if you refused to take a test in violation of the implied consent rule.

These administrative consequences come from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) rather than a court.

Criminal Penalties for a Second California DUI

A second-offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Jail Time and Fines

A second DUI conviction generally carries:

  • 96 hours to one year in jail, and
  • $390 to $1,000 in fines.

However, in some cases, jail time can be converted to house arrest or work service. It's also important to note that various fees and "penalty assessments" will significantly increase the amount the offender actually pays for a DUI conviction.

License Suspension, Education, and Probation

Penalties for a second DUI in California also include:

  • three to five years of probation
  • an 18-month DUI school, and
  • a two-year license suspension.

However, the administrative and criminal suspension periods are allowed to overlap, so the total suspension time won't exceed two years.

Restricted licenses. A second offender can apply for a restricted ignition interlock license for driving to and from places like work and school. For drug DUIs, the person must complete 12 months of the suspension before being eligible for a restricted license.

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs). Whether as part of a restricted license or following the suspension period (where the person does not apply for a restricted license), all second offenders are required to have an IID for at least 12 months.

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