Arrested for a DUI with a Blood Alcohol Content Over 0.15%
California sanctions drivers who take to the road while intoxicated based on their blood alcohol content (“BAC”) at the time of driving. Once a driver’s blood alcohol content rises to 0.08% or above, they are considered to be driving under the influence, California Vehicle Code Section (“CVC”) 23152(b). However, because a DUI is so dangerous to other drivers, pedestrians, and to the DUI driver, in 2006, the California Legislature added CVC 23578 as an enhancement to increase penalties when drivers have a blood alcohol level above 0.15%.
Your blood alcohol content is the primary evidence used to prove that a person was driving under the influence. It can be measured in two ways: a breath test or through a blood sample. If you submit to a breath test, the results of the test will be immediately known to the police, although the arresting officer is not required to tell you your BAC at that time. If you decide to submit to a blood test, the results of that test could take days or weeks, since the sample has to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results of either test will be available to you at your arraignment or sent to you by the DMV in preparation of your DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing, should you have requested one.
Blood alcohol content varies among different people. Weight, gender, metabolism, and age all affect how the body processes alcohol over time. There is no set limit as to how much one needs to drink in order to be illegally driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Therefore, it is important to understand your limits and to act prudently.
Statistically, approximately 70% of alcohol-related driving deaths occur when the driver’s blood alcohol content is above 0.15%. Therefore, the enhancements California can impose upon conviction for DUI are significant.
A blood alcohol content of 0.15% is considered an enhancing circumstance that can lead to stiffer fines, a longer mandatory DUI school requirement, and a longer jail sentence. However, there are additional enhancing circumstances that a court will also consider.
- Was there an accident involving other cars and passengers?
- Was anyone injured as a result of your driving?
- Was a passenger in your car under the age of 14 at the time of your arrest? This could mean an additional charge (California Penal Code (CPC) 273(a)) or enhancement of child endangerment (CVC 23572(a)(2)).
- Did you refuse to take a breath or blood test after you were arrested?
- Were you driving with a suspended or revoked license?
- Were you recently convicted of a DUI?
- Were you driving recklessly, or exceeding the speed limit by 20-30 mph (CVC 23582(a))?
- Were you under the age of 21 while having a BAC of 0.05 or more at the time of driving (CVC 13202.5(a) and CVC 23140)?
If you were arrested for a DUI, you should immediately contact a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss how to defend against these enhancing circumstances.
Fines and Jail Time
If you are convicted of a DUI and the prosecution proved that your blood alcohol content was above 0.15% at the time of driving, then the court may impose a fine ranging from $390.00 to $1,000.00 plus penalty assessments. The determination of the fine imposed will generally depend on the actual BAC results and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. These factors, along with blood alcohol content, will also contribute to the imposition of jail time. A first-time DUI offense might result in jail time of up to six months. A second or third DUI conviction can mean up to a year in jail.
In addition to fines and jail time, a conviction for a DUI above 0.15% also means a lengthier DUI school which is a time-consuming and expensive portion of any sentence. For a complete discussion of time and cost, click here.
A first offense could mean a three-month mandatory DUI school. An enhancement for a higher blood alcohol content can mean six or nine months of mandatory DUI school. In addition to the time required to attend, these classes can range in cost from $750 for a six-month class to $1250 for a nine-month class.
During your probationary period, you will have to complete the required course and present a certificate of completion to the court. However, your penalties might not yet be over.
A conviction for DUI with a blood alcohol content above 0.15% means an automatic driver’s license suspension. The Department of Motor Vehicles will not restore your driving privilege until you have completed a mandatory DUI school. However, there are options available to restore your driving privilege during this time which will allow you to drive to and from the DUI school.
If those limited driving privileges are permitted, you may be subject to random alcohol testing, possible installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and other provisions to make sure that you are driving within the confines of the limitations. It is inadvisable to drive on a suspended license or without insurance (which is often canceled upon conviction for DUI). CVC 14601 provides for penalties and additional fines for driving on a suspended license.
Potential Penalty Enhancements
If your BAC was 0.15% or more at the time of driving a motor vehicle, you may be subject to enhanced sentencing upon conviction. The enhanced penalties may include attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or other alcohol treatment sessions in addition to the possibility of jail time. Moreover, this penalty enhancement may require the installation of an IID in your vehicle – that is, if your driving privileges are not totally suspended. Once installed, your car will not start until you take a breath test that registers 0.00% BAC. A summary of the enhanced penalties that may attach when blood alcohol content is over 0.15% include:
- Higher fines
- Alcoholics Anonymous meetings
- Longer mandatory DUI classes
- Suspended driver’s license
- Ignition interlock device installed on your car
- Jail time
- Random testing for alcohol and drug use
A skilled and experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer is essential to protecting your driving privileges and liberty. Without a driver’s license, consider how you will get to school or work, and attend to the needs of your family.
Defending against a DUI charge
Prosecutors have the power of the state behind them when investigating any criminal charge, including DUIs. This means that you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and freedom.
Our team will sit down with you and start working on your defense strategy as soon as we know the facts of the case and the evidence against you.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a DUI in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, or San Diego counties, The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian can help.
We will work to build a defense strategy that is focused on getting the charges against you dismissed or reduced.
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