After an individual has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the time comes for sentencing. The sentence that is handed down depends on a number of factors and will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. In California, a driver who has been found guilty of DUI may face enhanced penalties if certain aggravating factors are present. This page will give a brief overview of some the various aggravating factors that may be applicable to an individual's DUI case.
Aggravating Factors In California
Every case has its own unique set of circumstances. When certain types of factors, called aggravating factors, are present in a DUI case, the penalty for the DUI offense may be enhanced. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Refusal To Take A Chemical Test: If a driver refuses to take a chemical test (blood, breath, urine)then he or she may also face enhanced penalties. Cal. Veh. Code 23578. For example, of an enhanced penalty for a refusal is that the driver may be required to spend “48 continuous hours in the county jail.” Cal. Veh. Code 23577.
- DUI While Underage: Another instance where a driver can be subject to enhanced penalties is if he or she is under the age of 21. The BAC limit for a driver under 21 is much lower, at just 0.01% so a driver can potentially be subject to DUI charges with a BAC under the legal limit for adults over 21. Cal. Veh. Code 23136.
- Causing An Accident Or Bodily Injury: If a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident injuring another person, then the driver may also face enhanced penalties. In addition, a driver may be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. In general, felonies carry harsher punishments than misdemeanors. An example of an enhanced penalty if this factor is present is if a driver is convicted of a felony DUI that caused bodily injury or death to more than one person then the defendant can receive a penalty enhancement of one year in prison. Cal. Veh. Code 23558.
- Excessive Speeding: Another factor that may lead to a driver being subject to an enhanced penalty is if the driver was also excessively speeding while under the influence. Cal. Veh. Code 23582. The law states that a person who is found to have driven “a vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway” while intoxicated can face an additional penalty of up to 60 days in jail.
- Minors Under 14 In The Vehicle: Drivers can also face enhanced penalties if they are found to be operating their vehicle while intoxicated with minors under 14 riding in the vehicle.
Contact A DUI Attorney
These are just some factors that can be used to enhance a sentence in California. If you are facing DUI charges, you want an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side. John Campanella has been defending those accused of driving under the influence for many years in California. Please do not hesitate to contact his office today.