A first time DUI offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, under the California enhancement laws, the penalties for a DUI may be increased if there are aggravating circumstances.

California has created a statute that contains several enhanced penalties when certain aggravating situations exist at the time of the DUI arrest. These include:

  • Having a prior DUI conviction that occurred in the past 10 years
  • High blood alcohol level that is 0.15% or more
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test
  • Speeding 20mph over the speed limit at the time of the DUI stop
  • Having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle
  • DUI causing property damage
  • DUI causing bodily injury

What Are the DUI Enhancement Penalties?

The state of California Enhancement laws are designed to add more penalties to the standard penalties because of the aggravating circumstances that exist at the time of the original DUI arrest.

Since DUIs are bad as it is, the aggravating situations create more risk and danger, which is why the enhanced penalties are created. The enhanced penalties depend on the circumstances. Several examples are outlined below:

  • Repeat DUI offenders: A person with a second, third, fourth DUI conviction within the past 10 years could face up to 96 hours in jail for a second DUI, up to one year in jail for a third DUI, and up to 180 days for a fourth DUI. The DUI classes, fines, and license suspensions can also be heftier than a first time offense DUI
  • Excessive Blood Alcohol: A DUI conviction in which the driver has a blood alcohol that is .15% or greater can enhance the DUI penalties, fines, suspension, and probation.
  • Children under 14 in the Vehicle: The state of California Enhancement laws for having a minor under the age of 14 at the time of the arrest include additional days in jail time
  • Causing Property Damages or Bodily Injury: A DUI involving property damage and/or bodily injury of another could enhance the driver’s penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony. In addition, the fines, probation, suspension duration, and jail time could be increased as well. The enhancement could even be more if there are more than one person that is injured as a result of the DUI.
  • Refusing to Take Breath or Blood Test: If a breath or blood test is refused after arrested for a DUI, the driver will be subjected to additional "refusal enhancement" penalties. Enhancement penalties for refusing to take a blood or breath test are in addition to the standard penalties for DUI, and are as follows:
    • First DUI Offense: Drivers license suspension for 1 year and 48 Hours of Jail
    • Second DUI Offense: Drivers license suspension for 2 years and 96 Hours of Jail
    • Third DUI Offense: Drivers license suspension for 3 years and 10 Days of Jail

Do I Need a Lawyer?

DUI arrests result in serious penalties even for first time offenders. If you are a multiple offender or there are aggravating circumstances that surround your DUI, the penalties even become heftier. Following a DUI arrest, you should contact a DUI/DWI lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will help you fight any charges, including enhancement penalties, and may be able to help you reduce your penalties.