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DUI Sentence Enhancements In California

Drunk Driving penalties in California are set by statute and can be highly complex. The range of sentences are established by law with sentence enhancements applied to the following:

  • Having a Prior Conviction within Ten Years (runs from the date of offense to date of offense).

Prior Convictions - For defendants having one prior drunk driving conviction (DUI or .08% or more) within the past 10 years, the minimum jail sentence, DUI school and license suspension penalties are         increased. Two priors within ten years increases the penalties even more; and three "priors" within 10 years may         result in felony charges punishable by state prison.

Note: On January 1, 2005, the time in which a prior offense could be used against you "retroactively" increased from 7 years to 10 years (our courts currently hold this does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against Ex Post Facto laws).

Example: DUI arrest & conviction in 1996 -- another in 2004 (no prior offense).Third DUI arrest &         conviction occuring in 2005 would result in you being charged with two priors.

  • Speeding 20 or 30 mph over the limit

Speeding and Reckless Driving - This enhancement involves driving in excess of a specified speed while under the influence of alcohol or over the .08 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration [BAC]. California, enhances the penalty for drunk driving when a defendant also drives 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street or 30 mph over the speed limit on a freeway.

  • Having a child under 14 in the car

Child Endangerment - Increased penalties apply when a minor (an individual under 14 years of age) is a passenger in the vehicle and the driver is deemed to be under the influence.

  • Accident or Injury

Accident or Injury - Causing property damage while under the influence can trigger more severe sentencing and may result in a seperate offense. When personal injury involved, the offense can be elevated to felony.

  • Having a blood-alcohol reading over .20% [.15% is discretionary]

  • Refusing to submit to chemical testing

Miscellaneous Statutes:

Cal Veh Code § 15302 list the offenses for which the privilege         to operate commercial vehicle may be terminated for life:

A driver of a commercial motor vehicle may not operate a commercial motor vehicle for the rest of his or her life if convicted of more than one violation of any of the following:

(a) Subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 23152 while operating a motor vehicle.

(b) Subdivision (d) of Section 23152.

(c) Subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 23153 while operating a motor vehicle.

(d) Subdivision (d) of Section 23153.

(e) Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle operated by the driver.

(f) Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony, other than a felony described in Section 15304.

(g) Driving a commercial motor vehicle when the driver's commercial  driver's license is revoked, suspended, or canceled based on the driver's operation of a commercial motor vehicle or when the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle based on the driver's operation of a commercial motor  vehicle.

(h) Causing a fatality involving conduct defined pursuant to
Section 191.5 of the Penal Code or in subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code.

(i) While operating a  motor vehicle, refuses to submit to, or fails to complete, a chemical test or tests in violation of Section 23612.

(j) A violation of Section 2800.1, 2800.2, or 2800.3 that involves a commercial motor vehicle.

(k) Any combination of the above violations or a violation listed in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 13350 or Section 13352 or 13357 that occurred while transporting a hazardous material.

Cal Veh Code § 13352 (2008)

§ 13352. Driving under the influence or engaging  in speed contest; Suspension, revocation or restriction of license; Application and conditions for reinstatement

Attorney Robert Hamilton

My name is Robert Lee Hamilton and I'm a California DUI, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury and Landlord-Tenant Lawyer.