How does the California court decide my DUI penalties?
It is illegal in the state of California to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. Every state has established penalties for drunk driving, and many states have also instituted additional options for the court to enhance the DUI penalties if specific criteria or situations exist.
If you are arrested for drunk driving in California or in any other state it is important to talk to a DUI lawyer familiar with laws of your state. The types of DUI enhancements and the situations where they are allowed vary by jurisdiction. This blog will address common grounds in which DUI enhancements can generally be made in the state of California.
When will my California DUI penalties be increased?
- High Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Many states allow for the DUI penalties to be enhanced if the driver was operating a motorized vehicle with a high blood alcohol content level. The blood alcohol concentration which forces an enhancement varies by state. In the state of California the court will enhance the DUI penalties if the driver’s BAC is 0.15% or higher.
- Prior arrest and conviction for drunk driving
All states allow for DUI penalties to be enhanced if the driver is convicted of drunk driving multiple times. Whether the previous DUI will be considered is based on a state’s look back or washout period. In California the law allows for any DUI which occurred within 10 years of the current DUI to “enhance” the DUI penalties. Additionally, drivers with three prior DUI convictions within 10 years in California will be charged with a felony DUI.
- Speeding or reckless driving
California drivers who are driving either 20 or 30 miles above the speed limit (depending on the type of road or freeway) can have their DUI penalties enhanced. The driver may be charged with gross negligence for actions such as racing which means the driver had a “high level” of recklessness and disregard for the safety of other drivers.
- Minor in the car
Drivers who are intoxicated and operate their car with a minor inside can also have their DUI enhanced. State laws vary on who is considered a minor, but in the state of California a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 14.
- Caused an accident or injury to another person
California drivers who cause an injury or death to another person can expect to have their drunk driving charges enhanced. If another person is killed the driver could be charge with gross vehicular manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (ordinary negligence). Gross vehicle manslaughter will be a felony charge.
Hiring a DUI lawyer in California
Drivers who are arrested for drunk driving in California should contact a drunk driving lawyer immediately. This is even more important for drivers who have DUI charges which have been enhanced due to a minor in the car, an injury or accident to another person, reckless driving, or prior drunk driving convictions.
Fill out our FREE evaluation form to speak to a DUI lawyers office about your drunk driving case.
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