DUI – What you need to know

DUIs go from bad to worse – Six Ways to get severely punished in your DUI case

California has enacted a statute that creates several sentencing enhancements for DUI cases.  If there are particular aggravating factors in a DUI arrest, a person convicted of DUI may face significantly harsher penalties including long state prison sentences, huge fines and severe (even life-time) license suspensions.

Here are the factors that increase a DUI sentence:

(1)    Prior DUI convictions – If you have previously been convicted of a DUI (within the past 10 years), any new DUI counts as a second time (or third time) DUI and the sentence is significantly harsher.  There is mandatory county jail time, an 18 – month alcohol class, and severe license restrictions.  A fourth DUI conviction in 10 years will automatically be filed as a felony with a significant state prison sentence to follow.  First, second and third time DUIs are probation eligible.

(2)    High Blood Alcohol Content – If your BAC or blood alcohol level is .15% or higher, the prosecutor has the discretion to add a high blood alcohol allegation to the vehicle code charge which will dramatically increase the amount of alcohol classes you are required to attend, and negatively impacts your driver’s license.  With a BAC between .15% and .20%, the prosecutor has the discretion to add the enhancement – it is by no means required and can often be negotiated away.  At .2%+ BAC, the enhancement is mandatory.

(3)    Refusal to submit to chemical testing – Each licensed California driver has agreed to submit to an alcohol screening test at the request of a law enforcement agency, whether they know it or not.  If you refuse to submit to a test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended.  On many occasions with a breath-test, if you do not blow hard enough the machine will not register a valid reading and the law enforcement agency will consider it a refusal.  At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we work closely with prosecutors and judges to “strike” the refusal allegation, meaning removing it from the complaint as if it never happened.

(4)    Bad driving – If you were speeding at a very high rate of speed or driving very recklessly, the prosecuting agency will give a significantly harsher penalty, often including jail time.

(5)    Traffic Accident – If you are involved in a traffic accident as part of your DUI, you will face increased fines and large restitution orders, and possibly jail time.

(6)    Injury to others – If you cause injury to someone else because of a DUI traffic accident, you will most likely be charged with a felony “DUI Causing Injury” which carries a very harsh state prison sentence.  Courts and prosecutors are especially harsh on drivers who have caused injury to innocent civilians and the penalties can be very severe, including a life-time license suspension.


If you are facing a DUI with one of these aggravating factors, call the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin immediately.  We will aggressively defend your case and in many cases we can get the prosecutor and Court to agree to strike the sentencing enhancement to get you the best possible result.


About the Author

Hart Levin

Hart Levin

Hart graduated from UC Berkeley at the top of his class, where he received his Bachelor of Arts with Honors. He attended Loyola Law School where he also graduated with Honors. Hart Levin began his career working as an associate at a prominent civil law firm in Westwood, CA, McNicholas & McNicholas LLP.
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