Some Basic Facts
Do not drive a vehicle or operate a
vessel after having alcoholic drinks. A vessel driving-under-the-influence
(DUI) conviction will show on your driver record and
you may lose your driver license.
With a blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) that is 0.08% or more, it is illegal for drivers
21 years of age and older to:
- Drive vehicles or
- Operate any recreational vessel, aquaplane, water
skis, or similar devices.
With a BAC that is 0.04% or more, it
is illegal for drivers 21 years of age and older to:
- Drive commercial vehicles or
- Operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel.
With a BAC that is 0.01% or more, it
is illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to:
- Drive vehicles or
- Operate any vessel, aquaplane, water skis, or similar
devices. You are subject to fine, jail, and participation
in an alcohol education or community service program.
A BAC below legal limits does not mean
that it is safe to drive. Almost all drivers show the
effects of alcohol at levels lower than the legal limit.
(Minors, see the Zero Tolerance
Drivers 21 and
If you are convicted of driving with
alcohol or drugs in your body, the judge may sentence
you to 48 hours to six months in jail. You will have
to pay from $390 to $1,000 in fines (penalty assessment
extra), the first time you are convicted. In addition,
you will lose your license for six months, or DMV will
restrict your driving privilege. You will also be required
to complete a licensed DUI program, file a certificate
of insurance (SR 22), and pay restriction and reissue
fees. If the vehicle is registered in your name, the
court may take your vehicle away for up to six months.
You will have to pay for storage fees.
If you are convicted of a DUI twoice
within seven years, the court must punish you with time
in jail (up to a year), a fine up to $1,000, and will
take your vehicle for up to twelve months. You will
lose your license for two years. After completion of
12 months of the suspension period, you may obtain a
restricted license if you enroll in a DUI program, have
an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your
vehicle, file a certificate of insurance (SR 22) with
DMV, and pay the restriction and reissue fees.
If you are convicted a third time within
seven years, you will lose your driver license for up
to three years, pay a fine up to $1000, have your vehicle
impounded for up to twelve months, and spend from three
months to one year in jail. After completion of 18 months
of the revocation period, you may apply for a restricted
driver license if you complete a DUI program, install
an IID on your vehicle, file an SR 22 with DMV, and
pay the restriction and reissue fees.
Completion of a DUI program is required
for all DUI convictions.
In cases involving death or serious
bodily injury, you may be punished under Californias
Three Strikes Law. You could also face a
The law is very strict about carrying
alcohol or drugs in a vehicle whether the vehicle is
on or off the highway. You must not drink any alcoholic
drink in any vehicle.
A container of liquor, beer, or wine
carried inside the vehicle must be full, sealed, and
unopened. Otherwise, it must be put in the trunk or
a place where passengers dont sit. Keeping an
opened container of an alcoholic drink in the glove
compartment is specifically against the law.
In a bus, taxi, camper, or motor home,
the law does not apply to non-driving passengers.Visit
Driver section for information about this program.
Teenagers are more than twice as likely
as adult drivers to be involved in an alcohol-related
If you are under 21 years of age:
- It is against the law to purchase beer, wine, or
- The court may take away your vehicle for up to six
months if you are convicted of driving under the influence
of alcohol or drugs (DUI). You will have to pay storage
- And convicted of a first DUI, you may have to spend
time in jail and pay a fine. DMV must revoke your
driver license for one year or until you are 18, whichever
is longer. You must show proof of insurance, and pay
a DMV reissue fee.
- It is against the law to carry on your person or
in the car any alcoholic beverage unless you are with
- transporting alcoholic beverages as part of your
- making a delivery of an alcoholic beverage at the
order of your parent or legal guardian.
Why Is Drinking
And Driving So Dangerous?
You lose your judgment when you drink
or use drugs. It is often the first thing about you
that changes. Loss of judgment, or good sense, affects
how you react to sounds, what you see, and the speed
of other vehicles around you. It takes about an hour
for the body to get rid of each drink. If
a person has had more than one drink an hour, one hour
of sobering up time should be allowed for
each extra drink. Better still, someone who has not
been drinking should drive. See the information on the Designated
What Is The Limit? Zero Tolerance Law
The law is stricter for drivers under
21 years of age. What is the limit? Zero is the limit.
It is unlawful for a person under 21 years of age to
drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01%
or higher as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening
(PAS) test or other chemical test.
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