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California Alcohol-Related Crimes Attorney

Choose An Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer to Assist You In Reducing The Consequences Of Your Alcohol-Related Charges

The consequences of an alcohol crime can be dire. It can follow you for the rest of your life, primarily if it wasn’t handled correctly from the beginning. My Rights Law have a track record of success. An experienced criminal defense attorney from My Rights Law will defend and protect your rights and help you get your alcohol-related crime charges reduced or dismissed. Call us now at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form for a free, confidential consultation.

In California, alcohol crimes encompass various crimes with a variety of penalties, from fines to jail time to loss of a driver’s license. In 2020, approximately 4,000 people were arrested and charged in Los Angeles County for alcohol-related crimes

What Are Alcohol-Related Crimes?

Alcohol-related crimes encompass anything that involves alcohol; however, there are three major alcohol-related crimes:

  1. Driving under the influence of alcohol
  2. Drunk in public, also known as drunken disorderly
  3. Selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor

Driving Under The Influence

According to California law, it is illegal for a person under the influence of alcohol[1], regardless of how much or how little, to drive a vehicle. As a result, even if you are not above a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you may be charged with a DUI. If your BAC is above .08%, a prosecutor may charge you with two crimes:

  • Violation of vehicle code 23152(a) – driving under the influence
  • Violation of vehicle code 23152(b) – driving with excessive BAC

Fortunately, if both of the above charges are sustained, they count as only a single DUI conviction.[2]

Penalties For DUI Charges

Under California law, the first three DUI convictions are usually misdemeanors. However, with each subsequent DUI, the punishment increases.

First DUI Charge

For the first DUI conviction in 10 years, the punishment is generally two days to six months in jail, three to five years of probation, DUI school, fines, and a driver’s license suspension. The number of hours a person must spend in DUI school depends on the BAC level –

  • If BAC is less than 0.15%, three months of DUI school, amounting to 30 hours.
  • If BAC is 0.15% to 0.19%, six months of DUI school, amounting to 60 hours.[3]
  • If BAC is 0.20% or higher, nine months of DUI school, amounting to 90 hours.

Additionally, the fines for the first DUI charge range from $390 to $1,000. There is also a minimum of a 6-month driver’s license suspension. However, the driver’s license suspension can be overruled if an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed.

Second DUI Charge

For the second DUI conviction in 10 years, the punishment is generally four days to one year in jail, three to five years of probation, 18- or 30-month DUI school course, $390 to $1,000 worth of fines, and two years of driver’s license suspension. Installing an IID could lower the driver’s license suspension.

Third DUI Charge

For the third DUI conviction in 10 years, the punishment is generally 120 days to one year in jail, three to five years of probation, 30 months of DUI school course, $390 to $1,000 worth of fines, and a three-year driver’s license suspension, which may be lowered if an IID is installed.

More Than Three DUI Charges

If more than three DUI charges occur within ten years, charges will be brought as felonies with up to three years in prison.

Drunk In Public

According to California law, it is illegal to be drunk in public, also known as public intoxication. To be convicted of public intoxication, the prosecution must prove the following:

  • The defendant was willfully under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or under the influence of drugs or a controlled substance,
  • The defendant was under the influence, in a public place, and either
    • The defendant was unable to exercise care for his own safety, or the safety of others, or
    • The defendant was under the influence. As a result, he interfered with, obstructed, or prevented free use of a street, sidewalk, or another public way.

Penalties For A Drunk In Public Charge

In California, public intoxication is a misdemeanor. Penalties include imprisonment in county jail for up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. In some situations, the judge will allow the defendant to do community service instead of paying a fine.[4] [5]

Defenses For Being Drunk In Public

There are three common defenses to drunk in public charges, which are to show that the person was not in a public place, involuntarily intoxicated, or there was no interference or obstruction. By employing these defenses, your charges may be reduced or even dismissed.

Not In A Public Place

The first element of proving that public intoxication occurred is that you were in a public place. Therefore, you can only be found guilty if they were actually in a public place such as a park. This means if you were drunk in your own yard, the officers would have no grounds to make an arrest.

Involuntarily Intoxicated

The second element of proving public intoxication occurred is that the defendant was willfully under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, if they were drunk by accidentally ingesting a drug or alcohol, they could not be convicted for public intoxication. For example, suppose you are unaware that brownies had drugs in them, and you were arrested for public intoxication. In that case, you can provide that you unknowingly digested drugs that led to the alleged public intoxication.

No Interference Or Obstruction

The third element of proving that public intoxication occurred is interfering with or obstructing the free use of a public street or sidewalk. Therefore, for example, if you can prove that you did not interfere with the public way because you were drunk behind a garbage can, the officer arguably had no ground to make an arrest.

Selling Or Furnishing Alcohol To A Person Under 21

In California, it is illegal to sell or furnish alcohol to a minor (i.e., someone under the age of 21). Doing such is a misdemeanor and can result in fines and community service. The penalties become more severe and vary for individuals and businesses.

The following table lays out the penalties for different situations.

Crime Misdemeanor Penalties
Alcohol vendors permitting underage drinking on the premises $250 in fines,


24 to 32 hours of community service

Selling or giving alcohol to an underage person The drinking results in great bodily harm or death:
  • 6 months to 1 year in jail
  • $1,000 in fines


  • $1,000 in fines, and
  • At least 24 hours of community service
Underage person buying alcohol or consuming it on the premises First Offense:
  • $250 in fines
  • 24 to 32 hours of community service

Second and Subsequent Offenses:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • 36 to 48 hours of community service

Unfortunately, there are not many defenses to the crime of selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor, except mistake of fact and statutory exemption. Therefore, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney.

My Rights Law California Alcohol Crimes Lawyer

An alcohol crime refers to any illegal activity that involves having or drinking alcohol. For instance, drunk driving is an illegal activity. You’ll want legal representation if you are charged with the offense. Contact us today for a free consultation if you have been charged with an alcohol offense.

There are also various federal regulations that govern the sale, transfer, and/or people who can consume alcoholic beverages. These regulations are strictly enforced when necessary, like not being able to purchase or consume alcohol until a person reaches the age of 21 in the U.S. Violating these regulations may result in criminal penalties.

In addition, a person can face serious legal consequences if they are convicted of an alcohol crime or drug crimes associated with alcohol. Some common examples of alcohol or alcohol-related crimes include the following:

  • Being drunk in public (public intoxication);
  • Drinking under the age limit (underage drinking);
  • Operating a vehicle or heavy machinery under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs (DUI)

Alcohol crimes do not always involve the consumption of alcohol or drunk driving. Many laws that govern alcohol-related crimes will address other topics, such as possession, transportation, and/or the sale of alcoholic beverages. If you have questions about legal representation or criminal penalties for drinking alcohol, contact a criminal defense lawyer today for a free consultation.

Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney In California

Suppose you have been charged with an alcohol-related crime. In that case, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. The alcohol-related crimes lawyers at My Rights Law know California’s law, process, and prosecution tactics. As a result, they will be able to help protect your rights and reduce or get your punishment dismissed. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or fill out our secure contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

[1] VC 23152(a); see also People v. Randolph (Cal. App. 5th Dist. 2018), 239 Cal. Rptr. 3d 395.
[2] Penal Code 654 PC. See also: People v. Wood (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d Supp.
[3] Vehicle Code 23536; VC 23540; VC 23646; and VC 23566. See also People v. Weathington (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 69.
[4] VC 23600.
[5] PC 1203.

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