If you face Driving under the Influence (DUI) charges and the alcohol mass in your blood during apprehension was at least 0.015%, DUI enhancement laws will take effect. These laws allow judges to enhance penalties like increased incarceration, extended DUI School programs, and IID installation when you drive with an extremely high blood alcohol content (BAC). It would help if you had an experienced legal team to fight the charges and prevent penalty enhancements. At Koenig Law Office, we can provide excellent legal guidance and representation for your VC23578 DUI over 0.15% case in Bakersfield, CA.

Understanding Aggravated DUI or DUI Over 0.15%

Drunk or drugged driving offenses are categorized based on impairment and the possibility of causing an accident or harm. You are likely to cause a traffic accident when you are highly impaired by substances or alcohol. Vehicle Code (VC) Sec. 23162 (b) of the California DUI statutes prohibits motorists from operating automobiles with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. 

In 2006, the state’s legislature adopted Sec. 23578, outlining possible sentence enhancements for motorists operating cars with an illegal BAC of at least 0.15%. An extremely high BAC aggravates the circumstances, prompting the Superior Court to impose harsh penalties in addition to those for the baseline DUI. When setting the penalties, the judge considers your BAC if you underwent chemical testing and the results were 0.15% or if you refused to submit a urine or blood sample for testing.

During sentencing, the court considers the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in the case to impose a sentence enhancement. If you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney, they will convincingly present the mitigating circumstances, resulting in a favorable ruling. At Koenig Law Office, we have experience handling drinking and driving defense cases and can provide guidance and court representation in your case.

Before bringing a charge against you, the prosecutor must thoroughly evaluate the arresting officer’s report and other crucial evidence presented in your case file. A critical part of the review is checking your BAC during the arrest. If the results are at least 0.15%, the prosecutor will file an official criminal complaint as they deem you a danger to yourself and other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. When intoxicated with an extremely high BAC, you almost double the designated limit, making it impossible to behave soberly like an ordinary motorist would under the same circumstances. If the BAC exceeds 0.20%, you risk sentence enhancement under VC 23538(b)(2).

Police establish your BAC during arrest through blood, breath, or urine tests. When you opt for a breathalyzer test, the officer utilizes a breathalyzer tool to determine the concentration of alcohol in your blood, and the results are immediate. Blood tests take days to obtain the results, as the samples are sent to a government lab for analysis. The officer records the results from the lab in the police report before forwarding the file and evidence to the prosecutor to file charges. 

Your gender, age, weight, and metabolism determine the level of impairment or intoxication when you consume alcohol. Nevertheless, when you drink more alcohol, you increase the possibility of a traffic accident. When the BAC exceeds 0.15%, your concentration on the road, information processing, and judgment are severely impaired, slowing your reaction time. This explains the many deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.15%. Due to the severe losses caused by aggravating DUI, California legislators adopted the VC 23578 sentence enhancements. 

Penalties for DUI with at least 0.15% BAC

Drinking and driving with an illegal BAC of 0.08% is a severe offense that attracts harsh penalties upon conviction. An unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.15% aggravates your DUI charge and results in the penalty enhancement outlined under VC 23578. The enhanced penalties include:

Court Financial Fines and Incarceration

If it is your first or second drunk or drugged driving charge in ten years, the court will impose a fine of $390 to $1,000, based on the nature of your count. The court fine will increase to $1,800 if this is your third offense. The kind of defense your attorney mounts will also determine the court fine you will pay.

Regarding jail incarceration, you risk no more than half a year as a first-time offender. A second-time offender will face at most twelve months of imprisonment.

Mandatory DUI School

If you are charged with drinking and driving and your offense falls under VC 23578 because of a BAC of 0.15% or above, you will attract at least six months of AB762 or nine months of AB1353 classes. Typically, the court imposes these classes in place of jail incarceration. While attending these classes, the court can impose additional probation conditions like:

  • Community labor.
  • Undertaking a victim impact panel or hospital and morgue.

First-time DUI offenders attend AB 541 DUI School for three months if their BAC during apprehension is 0.20%. You attend classes for drunk or drugged driving, which involve 30 hours of instruction.

The classes you must attend depend on the person providing the education. If the jury imposes mandatory DUI School, you must complete the program as instructed. When setting this sentence, the judge will require you to furnish them with proof of admission to the program within three weeks. Luckily, the program provider will provide both the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with the enrollment evidence immediately after you sign up.

The education program has a timeline after which you must provide the court with a completion certificate. The program will also send copies to the judge and the DMV, notifying them that you have completed your classes. Upon receiving the notice, the court will drop the charges against you. However, when you fail to finish or refuse to enroll, the judge will cancel the school program and sentence you to the initial DUI jail sentence.

Driving Privilege Suspension

An apprehension of drinking and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% will result in the DMV's automatic cancellation or withdrawal of your driving privilege. The jury will not extend the suspension because of the high BAC. Nevertheless, the DMV will only restore the right once you complete the alcohol or drug education. So, if the judge sends you to an alcohol or substance education program for nine months, you will be eligible for a restricted or conditional license. The license will help you travel to restricted areas during the nine months. 

If your driving privileges are on suspension and you lack a restricted license, driving on a withdrawn license can be tempting. However tempting it is, do not do this because it will result in additional criminal charges. VC 14601 prohibits motorists from operating automobiles when they know their driving privileges are suspended. A conviction for the crime results in jail incarceration and the payment of hefty monetary court fines. Nevertheless, the specific penalties and their severity hinge on the DMV's initial reason for suspending your license.

Despite the harsh penalties imposed for driving with a suspended driving privilege, you can prevent a conviction with the help of an experienced defense attorney. The legal representative will argue that you were unaware of the suspension.

IID Installation

Another penalty for operating an auto with a BAC of 0.15% or over is the installation of an IID. The breath testing tool is installed on the car’s dashboard and tests for your BAC any time you want to drive. Any time you want to start the car’s engine, you must blow the device. If it detects alcohol in the breath sample or you fail to provide a model for testing, the vehicle does not start.

If the judge instructs that you install the device on your automobile, you must visit a professional for the installation. Fixing and maintaining an IID is expensive, particularly if you have multiple vehicles, as each must have the device. Also, having to stop the car and take the test every forty-five minutes to give a sample is stressful.

Alternative Sentencing

When your attorney pokes holes in the prosecutor’s evidence, the court or jury can impose alternative sentencing instead of jail incarceration. They can order house arrest or send you to a sober environment for some time. Additionally, the court can impose community service hours. 

Other Causes of DUI Enhancement

When you have an illegal concentration of alcohol above 0.15% in your blood, you risk aggravated drinking and driving charges. High BAC is not the only cause of DUI sentence enhancement. You risk possible penalty enhancement because of other reasons, like:

     1. DUI Accident

Many traffic accidents stem from drinking and driving. These accidents result in property and car damage. Depending on the jurisdiction, a VC 23578 violation will result in penalty enhancements like community labor and additional court-imposed fines because of the property damage. For this reason, you need our attorneys at the Koenig Law Office to help you achieve a fair verdict. We understand court processes and prosecutors' operations, making us ideal for your case.

     2. DUI with Injuries

Drinking and driving accidents are overpowering. More devastating is causing a DUI accident that results in bodily harm or great bodily injury (GBI). Drinking and driving involving injuries is a wobbler and can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor. You will spend at least five days behind bars and twelve months of driving privilege suspension for a misdemeanor sentence.

When the accident victim obtains GBI, the prosecutor makes the charge a felony. The circumstances are unique in each felony case, and the prosecutor prefers the count depending on the severity of the injury, the pain suffered, and the medical treatment necessary. If you face an enhancement for felony DUI with injury, the jury will impose a prison sentence of 18 months. Furthermore, they will want you to compensate the victims for all the damages from the DUI crash.

     3. Child Endangerment in a DUI

California statutes make driving while intoxicated with a passenger 14 or younger in the car an offense. The jury will impose a penalty enhancement if your DUI involves a child under 14. The jury will impose an extra two to ninety days in jail on top of your sentence for the baseline drinking and driving offense. Also, you will be charged with the separate crime of child endangerment, whose conviction attracts at most 72 months in prison on top of the DUI sentence.

     4. Failure to Submit to Chemical Testing

Once the state issues you a driver’s license, you give “implied consent” to chemical testing. Any time an officer wants to conduct the tests after suspecting you are drinking and driving, you must agree. Many arrestees refuse to submit samples for testing, and the officer typically honors the refusal. Nevertheless, when convicted of DUI, you risk a penalty enhancement of mandatory forty-eight hours in jail and enrollment in an alcohol education program for nine months. Also, the DMV can take administrative action and impose twelve months of driving privilege withdrawal.

When you refuse to submit a sample for testing, you should speak to your lawyer at the Koenig Law Office to ensure the prosecutor does not use it to convince the court to impose additional penalties.

     5. Driving and Driving While on Probation

You would risk a penalty enhancement for an aggravated DUI if you were on probation when the DUI capture happened. Even with a BAC below the designated limit of.08%, operating an auto will attract a sentence increment if it violates probation conditions. The prosecutor will file DUI charges plus an additional charge for probation violation. The violation will result in jail incarceration and a driver’s license suspension.

     6. DUI on a Suspended or Expired Driver’s License

The court will increase your penalties if you are arrested for drunk or drugged driving without a valid license. A conviction will result in an additional and mandatory two days in jail.

     7. DUI Hit and Run

Some drunk drivers flee the scene of the crash after causing an accident. Hit-and-run cases are taken seriously; a single incident accrues four points on your record. Two points are for leaving the scene without reporting to the nearest station or checking on the injured, and the other two are for the drinking and driving charge. The points attract a penalty enhancement of half a year. If you are involved in a DUI under these circumstances, contact your attorney to begin working against a license withdrawal and minimize the points that will be added to your driving record.

     8. Reckless Driving

If you participate in reckless driving or speeding with a blood alcohol content of.08% or more, you risk a DUI penalty enhancement. The aggravating factor comes into effect if you operate an auto at a speed of 20 miles per hour above the designated speed on a residential street or 30 mph over the designated limit on a freeway or highway. The jury imposes an additional sentence of sixty days for endangering yourself, others, and property while speeding or driving recklessly.

Before granting a penalty enhancement, the jury considers each case and its circumstances. Therefore, sentence enhancement varies depending on the aggravating circumstances. Regardless of the aggravating factor level in your case, a sentence for aggravated drinking and driving charges attracts harsh penalties. Therefore, if you face the charge in Bakersfield, CA, contact the Koenig Law Office to craft viable legal defenses.

Defenses Against Aggravated DUI Charges

Your DUI defense lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor in a plea bargain for a charge or sentence reduction. The legal representative can also challenge the prosecutor’s proof to prevent a conviction or request a charge reduction. Your legal team can challenge a VC 23578 violation charge by making the jury doubt the accuracy of the field sobriety tests and DUI test results. They can do this by asserting that:

  • The FSTs were inaccurate because they were not done in perfect conditions or because the officer conducting them lacked proper training and experience.
  • The officer did not observe you for the required fifteen minutes to ensure you did not put anything in your mouth that could compromise the results.
  • The capturing officer did not follow Title 17 regulations on procedures for conducting breath and blood tests.
  • Your BAC was falsely high because of a medical condition or high protein intake.
  • The apprehending officer engaged in misconduct by not reading the Miranda rights or arresting you without probable cause. If the arrest was illegal, all the evidence gathered will be inadmissible in the case, and your DUI attorney can use this to convince the prosecutor to agree to a plea deal or drop the charges.

It would be best to have an experienced drinking and driving attorney to use these defenses effectively for a favorable outcome. The right attorney will guide you through all the steps of a VC 23578 violation charge and use the mitigating factors in the case to craft appropriate defense strategies.

Find a Reputable Drinking and Driving Defense Attorney Near Me

If you face VC 23578 violation charges in Bakersfield, you need a lawyer to protect your rights and freedom during these difficult times. At Koenig Law Office, we understand a conviction's impact on your future life, so we will aggressively defend you. Call us today at 661-793-7222 for a no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys will answer your questions and prepare the proper evidence to challenge the penalty enhancement in court.