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Once one has been charged and convicted of a DUI offense, a Los Angeles judge will read to them all the terms of their sentencing in open court. The state’s Vehicle Code calls for some mandatory sentencing requirements. However, the judge considers a lot more factors when passing out their sentence according to the circumstances surrounding the case.
The judge has a lot of flexibility when it comes to passing sentence. They will take into consideration any possible aggravating factors that existed during the arrest, which will ultimately affect the final sentencing decision. Below are some of these factors.
1. Traffic Accident During the Arrest
A traffic accident involving the defendant is one of the significant aggravating factors that control what type of sentencing, plea bargain, or punishment they will receive. A DUI driver who is involved in a traffic collision is subject to harsher sentencing because prosecutors and judges treat these cases more severely. The reason being that their intoxication could have easily led to serious injury or death.
A person convicted of a DUI offense and who was involved in a traffic collision is required to pay victims or their families a set restitution for damages incurred. During sentencing, the judge will first schedule a special restitution hearing to allow the prosecutor to reach out to the affected victim. The defendant is required to pay their victim out of pocket if their insurer has not fully compensated the latter or if the damages incurred have exceeded their coverage limits. In any case, the defendant is free to challenge the restitution amount demanded during the hearing.
On top of the restitution amount, DUI drivers involved in traffic accidents are slapped with more onerous conditions of their probation. These may include community labor or community service. Additionally, the defendant may also be required to complete a longer alcohol and drug education program. This ensures that they learn about all the inherent risks of driving while impaired.
2. Prior Driving Under the Influence Convictions
A criminal record with prior DUI convictions triggers mandatory sentencing requirements. If the defendant’s prior DUI convictions are within the last ten years, the resultant punishment will require a jail sentence plus at least 18 months of alcohol and drug education classes. If the defendant’s Dui offense is the fourth one in 10 years, they may be charged with a felony. Prosecutors and judges may still take into consideration prior convictions even if those convictions occurred outside of the past ten-year period.
3. A High Blood Alcohol Content
An excessively high blood alcohol content is a significant aggravating factor that could potentially lead to severe penalties upon sentencing. The legally accepted limit in California is 0.08 percent. Drivers with a BAC higher than .15 or .20 percent can incur more extensive penalties.
Judges and prosecutors are often concerned about defendants who were highly intoxicated while driving because of the increased danger of causing serious accidents and deaths. Such drivers are required to complete longer alcohol and drug education programs more than the standard three months. Their sentencing may also incur community labor or community service.
4. DUI Chemical Testing Refusal
Another serious aggravating factor considered in DUI cases is the refusal by a driver to take a chemical test. Such a driver risks the revocation of their driving license for one year without a restricted license. They may also spend at least 48 hours behind bars, do community service or labor, and complete longer alcohol and drug education programs.
When charged with any DUI traffic office with the possibility of potential penalty enhancements, it is crucial to hire or speak to a Los Angeles DUI attorney immediately. This allows you to navigate through your arrest and subsequent DUI case with ease.