Drivers in California can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the state’s legal limit. Sometimes, drivers face increased penalties if their BAC is excessively high at the time of their arrest.
This article reviews the definition of excessive blood alcohol and the penalty for having an abnormally high BAC in California. You can get legal help if you are accused of having a high BAC by calling (310) 896-2723 to speak with the Simmrin Law Group.
California’s Legal Limit for BAC
Before we discuss excessive BAC in California, we need to review the state’s general guidelines on alcohol usage by drivers. According to California’s legal codes, drivers must legally keep their BAC below:
- 0.08% if they are over 21
- 0.04% if they are commercial drivers
- 0.01% if they are under 21
Drivers with a BAC higher than the state’s legal limits can also be arrested for a DUI. Additionally, some drivers may be arrested if their BAC is below the legal limit if they appear to be impaired.
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The Definition of Excessive Blood Alcohol in California
Drivers that meet or exceed California’s legal limit for BAC can be charged with a DUI. Drivers with an excessively high BAC level may face sentencing enhancements under Vehicle Code Section 23578. VC 23578 states that drivers have an excessively high BAC if it is at or above 0.15%.
Note that California uses another, more severe charge to handle drivers with an even higher BAC. Any driver with a BAC over 0.20% can face additional penalties, under Vehicle Code Section 23538(b)(1).
Assessing Excessive BAC Levels in California
Law enforcement officers can use chemical tests to determine if a driver has an excessively high BAC. Generally, police officers use breath tests, like the breathalyzer, to measure BAC. However, blood tests or urine tests may be used in some situations.
Drivers are legally required to cooperate with BAC testing if they are:
- Under 21
- On DUI probation
- Legally arrested
Refusal to complete a legally ordered BAC test can lead to criminal charges in California. Additionally, refusing a test does not mean that a police officer will not make an arrest. If you are arrested for a DUI in California, make sure you get help quickly from a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Call (310) 896-2723 to get legal assistance today.
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California’s Penalties for Excessive Blood Alcohol
Drivers with an excessive BAC level can face enhancements to their sentence if they are convicted of a DUI. Let’s review the standard penalties for a DUI before we discuss the enhancements. A driver convicted of a first-time DUI in California could face:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Jail time of up to six months
- Use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months
An enhancement for excessive blood alcohol increases the repercussions for a DUI conviction. Drivers with a BAC over 0.15% can face higher fines and additional time in jail. They may also be ordered to:
- Maintain their IID for up to three years
- Attend nine months of traffic school
- Complete community service
- Take part in an alcohol treatment program
Drivers arrested with a BAC over 0.20% can face other sentencing enhancements. In this situation, drivers could be ordered to attend 60 hours of an alcohol treatment program in addition to the penalties discussed above.
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Disputing Charges of Excessive Blood Alcohol
A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can help you if you are accused of having an excessive BAC level during a DUI arrest. Your lawyer may be able to help by disputing the results of your BAC tests. These tests sometimes return faulty results, especially if:
- The police officer did not administer the test properly
- The police officer waited too long to administer the test
- The test was not stored or maintained properly
- The laboratory techs did not follow proper procedures when assessing the test
A legal professional can work to demonstrate that your BAC was not excessively high at the time of your arrest. The team at the Simmrin Law Group can also work to resolve your DUI charge completely, so you can move forward with your life.
Contact a Lawyer for Excessive Blood Alcohol Charges in California
Any BAC level over 0.15% is considered excessive in California. Drivers with a high BAC can face additional penalties if they are convicted of a DUI. This makes it very important that you contact the Simmrin Law Group to get legal help after an arrest. Call (310) 896-2723 or fill out our online contact form to get started.
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