Misdemeanor DUI:
1st 2nd 3rd DUI within 10 years, No Injuries, No Prior Felony

If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you probably have a number of questions about the charges you are facing. How will your arrest affect your future? Will you lose your license? Could you be sentenced to jail time? The answers to these and many other questions depend largely upon how your charge is classified. Here’s what you need to know about a California DUI misdemeanor.

The majority of DUIs are classified as misdemeanors—and although the charge is less serious than a felony offense, it is still a crime. As a result, a misdemeanor conviction carries a number of severe penalties. Under state law, even a first-time offender can face a fine of up to $1,500, six-month license suspension, and/or spend time behind bars. These sentencing guidelines, however, are rather lenient when compared to the penalties imposed in felony DUI cases.

To determine whether your offense is considered a misdemeanor or felony, the court will review several factors, including your prior criminal history and the circumstances of your arrest. If you were involved in an accident, driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit, or had a passenger under the age of 14 in your vehicle, for example, your charge is more likely to be classified as a felony. Likewise, if you have four or more prior DUI convictions on your record, you can expect to face felony charges.

When determining the nature of your offense, the court will also look at the amount of alcohol you had in your system at the time of your arrest. This figure—a metric known as blood alcohol content, or BAC—can only be determined through chemical testing (such as breathalyzers and blood or urine tests).

According to state law, a driver becomes impaired when his or her BAC reaches 0.08% or higher. As a result, if a chemical test indicates you have a BAC above this amount, an officer has grounds to arrest you for driving under the influence—and if your blood alcohol content was extremely high (0.20% or more), your offense may be considered a felony.

It is important to know that all motorists are required to submit to chemical testing if an officer suspects them of DUI—and that means you can also be charged with the offense if you refuse to perform a breathalyzer or other chemical test. In fact, the penalties for refusing the test are often more severe than for failing.


California law classifies most drunk driving charges as misdemeanor offenses. First, second, and third DUI convictions, absent any aggravating factors, will result in misdemeanor criminal charges. The penalties become more severe with each additional DUI conviction.

First DUI Conviction

  • Maximum of 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $390 – $1,000
  • Suspended license for 6 months

Second DUI Conviction

  • Minimum 96 hours in jail
  • Maximum 1 year in jail
  • Fines between $390 – $1,000
  • Suspended license for 2 years

Third DUI Conviction

  • Minimum 120 days in jail
  • Maximum 1 year in jail
  • Fines between $1,000 – $1,800
  • Suspended license for 3 years


If you have been charged with a Los Angeles DUI offense it is very important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. There are tight deadlines in every DUI case, especially in regard to driver’s licenses, and retaining an attorney early on can make a significant difference.

With many years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Chris Nalchadjian is highly effective at fighting all aspects of DUI charges. Mr. Nalchadjian understands the consequences a DUI conviction can carry and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.

For more information about driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney Chris Nalchadian at KN Law Firm. We can be reached 24/7 at 888 950 0011 or through this contact form.

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