Drunk Driving Defense, DUI Arrest - FAQs

16. What is a sentence enhancement?

When certain pieces of evidence exist in a case, California law requires an elevated penalty. Examples of the more common occurrences can be found below. The evidence must be stated in the complaint for the enhanced sentence to occur. The most common sentence enhancer is a previous DUI conviction or similar offense within 10 years of the new charge.

The more common occurrences:

  • The suspect was driving 20 MPH above the posted speed limit
  • A child was present in the vehicle
  • Personal injury or property damage occurred
  • The suspect refusal of chemical testing
  • The suspect's blood-alcohol concentration was over .20%
  • The suspect is under 21 years old. (The Zero tolerance laws in California usually charge the suspect with a much longer license suspension and require a lower BAC.)

The DUI will be elevated to a felony if there was personal injury to another caused by the suspect. If a death occurs, the charge could be elevated to manslaughter or even murder, when special circumstances exist.

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