Californian drivers may not know it, but the state is one of the harshest when it comes to dealing with incidents involving driving while under the influence (DUI). The penalties are steep and can impact drivers of all sorts, regardless of whether or not it’s your first offense.

FindLaw breaks things down further, giving an in-depth look at exactly how California handles DUI cases. The first thing to look at are the penalties that a first-time offender can face. In many states, your first-time offense conviction will be met with punishment, but may receive some lenience if no other charges are involved on the basis that you don’t have a history. In California, however, a first-time offense can result in:

  • 48 hours in jail
  • Almost $2,000 in fines
  • Months of license suspension
  • Finishing a 3-month alcohol education program

These penalties continue to stack if the number of offenses you are convicted of grows. For example, if you are convicted of a third DUI or higher, you could end up paying $18,000 in fines or assessments, up to 16 months in a state prison, and 30 months in an alcohol treatment program that you must successfully complete. Your license can also be revoked or suspended for up to 10 years, depending on the charges faced. It may be possible for your vehicle to be confiscated, or for an ignition interlock device to be installed in your car. If you have over 3 offenses, the interlock device becomes mandatory.

These are huge, life-altering changes. If you are facing a DUI charge, consider contacting an attorney to see what your defense options are.