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You might be surprised to learn that not all DUI offenses are the same. Some drunk driving offenses might be worse because there’s a motor vehicle crash. If a driver tries to flee the scene of a traffic crash, this is taken very seriously in the context of a DUI investigation. In other cases, the prosecutor might take a drunk driving offense seriously because the driver has a very high alcohol level.
Typically, it’s illegal to drive with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or more per 210 liters of breath. However, if a person has a very high level of intoxication, they can face enhanced charges. If your bodily alcohol level is a .20 or more at the time of your arrest, you can face charges under California Vehicle Code Section 23538(b)(2) VC.
This offense is more serious than what you face if you get a typical drunk driving charge. This is because law enforcement believes that a person that’s caught with a very high alcohol level is far more likely to have a drinking problem than a person who has a lower alcohol level at their arrest. Even if it’s a person’s first drunk driving arrest, law enforcement assumes that it takes an experienced drinker in order to get to a higher level of intoxication.
That means that the justice system wants to impose harsher penalties than you might receive for a lower alcohol level. They want you to receive intense intervention to make sure that they don’t offend a second time. They want to make sure that you pay your debt to society.
A conviction for California Vehicle Code Section 23538(b)(2) VC often includes alcohol education. A person convicted under this section has to spend significant time learning about the dangers of drunk driving. They likely have to attend a victim impact panel to hear from people whose lives are affected by drunk driving. This all occurs even in cases where the drunk driving conviction is your first criminal conviction.
Facing charges of an alcohol level of .20 or higher can have immediate consequences that occur when a person is released on bond. You have a right to release on bond while you wait for your next court date. A judge grants bond in all but the most extreme cases.
You might have to undergo alcohol monitoring. This can include alcohol testing or even wearing an electronic bracelet. You might even begin or continue attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Possible penalties for driving with an alcohol level of .20 or more include jail time, fines, community service and alcohol education courses. You also face suspension of your license to operate a motor vehicle for a significant period of time. If you’re ordered to complete an alcohol course, the State of California might not grant you a full driver’s license until you can show that you’ve completed the course.
You should work with a Los Angeles DUI attorney to discuss your options. They might be able to help you get an ignition interlock device placed in your car. You also might be able to lawfully drive a motor vehicle with ordered restrictions. There are certain procedures for making these kinds of requests, and it’s important to work with your attorney as soon as possible to make sure you file your requests on time.
Your attorney can help you explore all of your available options. They might be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge. Alternatively, if law enforcement can’t prove their case, the result can be complete dismissal of the charges against you.