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When you’re charged with drunk driving, you might make the mistake of assuming that each person who faces drunk driving charges can expect the exact same treatment. This is not the case. The severity of your drunk driving offense depends on a number of factors such as your prior convictions, whether you flee the scene of a crash and your alcohol level.
Your intoxication levels can make a big difference when it comes to the severity of your drunk driving charge. If your alcohol level is high, you can face more serious charges than you might face if your alcohol level is near the legal limit. This is because lawmakers think that you’re more likely to have a serious drinking problem if your alcohol level is very high and you choose to drive a motor vehicle. Lawmakers also believe that a driver with a high alcohol level is more likely to cause a traffic crash.
At the most basic level, California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol level of .08 or higher per 210 liters of breath. However, if your bodily alcohol level is a .15 or higher, you can face more serious penalties. It’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher under California Vehicle Code Section 23578 VC.
You may not know your bodily alcohol content at the time you’re arrested. If you take a breath test, the results are available to you and to the law enforcement officer immediately. Sometimes, you don’t take a breath test. If you take a blood test, the results can often take weeks or even months.
In fact, the state has so much trouble processing blood test results quickly that you can see a complete bar to the charges against you if it takes the state more than one year to process your blood results. If the state gets the results on time, they can enhance the charges against you if your blood alcohol level is over a .15.
In most cases, if your alcohol level is a .15 or higher, you can expect the prosecutor to charge the more serious crime of driving with a high bodily alcohol content. The possible penalties are more serious than they are for a typical drunk driving. You might have to take a six or nine-month class to learn about alcohol and the dangers of drinking and driving. In addition, you have increased exposure to longer jail time, community service hours and programs to help you understand the seriousness of your actions.
Although a conviction for a high bodily alcohol content doesn’t automatically mean a longer suspension of your driver’s license, your license is often suspended until you complete your required alcohol education coursework. Since the more serious conviction often means a longer course, the practical result can be that you end up with a longer license suspension. You might also have a longer period to have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle to make sure that you don’t drive with alcohol in your system.
If you’re charged with driving with a bodily alcohol content of .15 or higher, it’s important to work with Los Angeles DUI lawyers to evaluate your options. Many times, they can help you defend against the chemical testing that law enforcement did in your case. They can evaluate to see if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights. It’s important to work with your attorney as soon as possible so that they can begin defending you to the fullest extent of the law.