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
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