One of the enhancements for any DUI is having a high blood alcohol level. For DUI cases where there is a breath test or a blood test, and the alcohol level is above a .15% (meaning that the test is at a .16%, or double the legal limit, or higher), there can be additional punishments, described under the law as “additional or enhanced” penalties added to the sentence.
The law allows prosecutors, or the courts, to make the sentence higher than it would be otherwise, just based upon the alcohol level. California Vehicle Code section 23578 states as follows:
VC 23578 In addition to any other provision of this code, if a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 [DUI laws], the court shall consider a concentration of alcohol in the person’s blood of 0.15 percent or more, by weight, or the refusal of the person to take a chemical test, as a special factor that may justify enhancing the penalties in sentencing, in determining whether to grant probation, and, if probation is granted, in determining additional or enhanced terms and conditions of probation.
High Blood Alcohol Level DUI Punishment.
The law, as you can see, doesn’t specify what punishment exactly should be assessed for having double the legal limit of alcohol or higher in your system. According to many Orange County DUI lawyers, while the prosecutor does have the right to ask for community service, physical labor like Cal Trans, or even jail time, the prosecutor – the Orange County District Attorney – usually argues for a longer alcohol school.
The standard alcohol school is three months. But for cases where there is a higher alcohol level, the prosecutor will ask for a six-month, or a nine-month first offender program, which increases the costs and time for first-time offenders.
High Blood Alcohol Level DUI case Defenses.
Our Orange County DUI Attorney has found that one of the approaches with high blood alcohol allegations is to more closely examine the breath or blood test result. Under Title 17, breath tests are allowed to have a margin of error of .02%, and can still be considered accurate. If the breath test is close to a .16%, that can make the difference between the enhancement being dismissed or having to take the additional punishment. See our article on breath testing defenses in a DUI for much more information.
With blood testing, the blood is kept for retesting, and a retest of the blood may show contamination, a different blood alcohol level, the presence of bacteria (which may, in turn, ferment the blood and create alcohol), or other problems. That may mean that the case can be dismissed or that the additional punishment from the enhancement can be dismissed. See our article on blood testing defenses in a DUI for more information on the best approaches to DUI blood tests.
High Blood Alcohol Level DUI cases can take special handling, but we have the experience to do all we can to avoid additional punishment for you in your case.