Typically, driving under the influence is a criminal offense in California. The standard blood alcohol concentration for a person to be considered intoxicated by alcohol is 0.08%. However, sometimes, you may find yourself arrested for a DUI and charged with violating VEH 23578. This is a DUI offense often arrived at when a suspect declines to submit to a urine or breath test, or is actually tested, and the BAC results indicate this as the alcohol level. The penalties for driving with a BAC of 0.08% or over are harsh, but a BAC of 0.15% attracts even steeper penalties. When charged with violation of VEH 23578, you will require the services of a lawyer to fight against the allegations. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we have experience in DUI cases and will offer you excellent defense.
Understanding VC 23578 DUI Over .15%
The law in California groups DUI offenses according to the intoxication level and the possibility a driver has to cause accidents. It is believed that when your BAC is high, your level of impairment is also high. This means the higher your blood alcohol concentration, the more you are impaired and likely of committing various DUI related offenses.
Typically, the state of California prohibits a person from driving when their BAC level is 0.08% or higher. Unfortunately, despite the harsh penalties for those arrested driving past the alcohol limit, some drivers continue to operate their vehicles when their BAC is extremely beyond the legal limit. In 2016, the state of California adopted sentence enhancements for individuals arrested operating cars with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
When a person is tested, and their blood records high BAC levels, these acts as aggravating elements that would result in enhanced penalties if convicted of this offense. VC 23578 outlines detailed sentence enhancements for individuals convicted of a DUI with their blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher.
When you are charged with intoxicated driving, the prosecutor begins by collecting evidence of the crime. One of the most significant evidence in cases of DUI is the suspect’s BAC results. When your BAC level records 0.15%, you will be charged with a DUI offense. This alcohol level is exceptionally high, almost two times over the lawful limit. When your BAC is excessively high, you are not only a danger to yourself but other motorists as well.
It is believed that when a driver is highly intoxicated, he or she is unable to decide on various things as a sober person would. Sometimes a suspect may record even higher BAC levels of 0.2% or higher. The penalties the suspect will receive will be more severe compared to those of a person with a BAC of 0.15%.
When arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, several tests will be carried out to establish your level of impairment and BAC levels as well. If detained at a DUI checkpoint or are pulled over by a police officer, he or she will subject you to various field sobriety tests. These tests are geared towards determining how impaired a driver is and if there is a need to arrest them for further investigation. One of the standard field sobriety tests is the preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS), which is typically a breathalyzer test. When you fail in one of the field sobriety tests, the officer will arrest you on drunk driving charges and take you to the station where further investigation is carried out.
It is important to note that you do not have to submit to any field sobriety tests, and no penalties will be brought against you. But, this does not mean that you will not be arrested for drunk driving. Field sobriety tests are designed to help the officer to determine if indeed the motorist is impaired and further testing is required. Field sobriety tests are, however, mandatory for individuals serving a DUI probation or those below the age of 21. If you belong in any of these categories, your refusal will act as a factor in enhancing your penalties.
Once you have been legally arrested for a DUI, you will be subjected to a urine or breath test. The state of California is an implied consent state, meaning when detained legally, you must submit to either of these chemical tests. Should you decline the test, you will receive enhanced penalties, with one of them being an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
Several factors determine the quantity of alcohol, resulting in impairment. These factors will include the body size of the person, their weight, gender, age, or metabolism.
Despite the physical characteristics of different people, impairment will depend on your alcohol consumption, and one needs to ensure they do not exceed the legal limit. With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15%, a driver is more likely to initiate a crash compared to one with a lower BAC of 0.08%.
The NHTSA reports that most deaths from impairment happened where a driver had a BAC of 0.15% or higher. Because of this, California has steeper penalties for drivers found to operate vehicles at a 0.15% BAC level.
Consequences for VC23578 Violations
A standard DUI is one where the driver has a BAC level of 0.08%. However, when a driver exceeds this amount to be at 0.15%, it becomes an aggravating element in a DUI offense with stricter penalties. The consequences of driving with this high level of alcohol include:
Jail Time and Fines
A DUI violation is a priorable offense in California. This means that every subsequent offense after the first one, the penalties increase and are pegged on the previous sentences. When you are found with a BAC of 0.15% or over for the first time, you will be charged with a DUI offense. A first and second DUI offense would result in fines ranging between $390 and $1,000. The severity of the crime determines the amount the judge will sentence you to pay as fine. When your offense is the third one, your fines may even go much higher, but not beyond $1,800.
Various factors determine the amount of find a defendant is ordered to pay. Some of these factors include the evidence the prosecution has against you and the charges by the prosecutor. The defense you will also present through your lawyer will also determine how much fine you will be ordered to pay. This makes it essential to engage an experienced lawyer to defend your case.
When you are a first offender, the judge may sentence you to serve a jail sentence of not more than six months. If you are charged and convicted of a second and third DUI, subsequently, you may be sentenced to one year in jail.
DUI School Program
The level of BAC is taken very seriously in California. A person arrested with a 0.15% BAC or more is ordered to attend a DUI school program. This program is not optional, but it is part of a mandatory penalty. When you are accused of a DUI under VC 23578, you will be ordered to attend a DUI program for a minimum of six months. This is categorized as AB762 class, while AB1353 class is a program that takes nine months that you may be ordered to.
As you attend the DUI program, you will be faced with additional terms of probation. You may be ordered to perform community service or do other work the court finds suitable in your case. Sometimes, a judge can order you to a program that will help you understand the possible impact of drunk driving. Some of these programs will include the hospital and morgue program or the victim impact panel.
When it is your first offense, the judge is likely to sentence you to three months of DUI School. This is only when your BAC results are lower than 0.2%. This program is what is referred to as AB541. In this program, a defendant may be expected to attend both DUID and DUI sessions. This program is comprised of an instruction time of thirty hours.
The number of programs and classes you may be required to attend vary based on the entity providing the program. When a judge sentences a defendant to a DUI school, it is not an option, but the defendant must participate and complete the training successfully.
When you receive this sentencing, the court will expect you to present evidence that you are enrolled in a DUI program in twenty-one days from when you are sentenced. However, the provider of the program sends evidence of your enrolment to both the court and the DMV.
Because the program is supposed to run over a certain period, the court will expect you to present a certificate showing attendance and completion of the program once done. The provider offers this proof to the court and the DMV once you have completed the program. Should you not attend and complete the lessons as expected, you will not get a certificate to show completion. Missing classes may lead to disqualification from the school. This will cause the court to revoke your probation sentence and instead recommend imprisonment.
As you undertake the DUI school program, the court expects the defendant to remain clean of alcohol. As you are carrying on with the program, you will periodically be subjected to chemical or breathalyzer testing. If you are found to be intoxicated, you will be thrown out from the program and risk imprisonment.
Suspension of your Driver’s License
If your BAC is 0.15% or over, the DMV will automatically suspend your license. Additionally, the period of suspension will be longer compared to a person with a BAC of 0.08%. If your suspension period is over before your DUI program is, you may want to apply for the reinstatement of your license. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The DMV is stringent and expects one to complete their DUI school program before reinstatement of their license. In the meantime, you can apply for a restricted license as long as you meet the necessary requirements.
Never attempt to drive when your license is on suspension. If you are arrested, you will be charged with violations of VEH 14601. VEH 14601 makes it a criminal offense to operate a car while your license is on suspension. Although the offense is a misdemeanor, the penalties are harsh, and they include a jail sentence and fines, among others.
Ignition Interlock Device
When a defendant is found guilty of driving with a high BAC of 0.15%, he or she will be ordered to install their vehicle with an IID device. This is a device that takes your breath to check for the presence of alcohol. If the device which is normally fixed on your vehicle’s dashboard detects any alcohol in your breath, it records it, and your probation officer will retrieve the records. The device is designed to hinder you from operating your vehicle with any trace of alcohol in your breath. For you to drive your car; therefore, the breath you supply must be free from any alcohol. When ordered to install the gadget, you must seek authorized dealers to install it for you, and on every car, you drive.
Without providing the breath sample to the IID, your vehicle will not start. During your journey, the device will demand more breath samples, with the first one being five to fifteen minutes after starting the car. After that, the device may ask you to provide a breath sample after 45 minutes, with only six minutes given to submit the sample.
The IID device will record anytime you fail the test. One of the conditions of probation and restricted driving is for the defendant not to drive with any traceable amount of alcohol in their blood. Should the IID device record that you attempted to drive with alcohol in your system, this can be used in court against you and can cause the judge to revoke the probation and instead sentence you to jail.
It is not possible to cheat the IID device, and any attempts to do that will be detected and can lead to revocation of your probation sentence. The code for the device is short such that a passenger cannot give their breath as the sample, and the device is designed in a way that it only accepts a certain pattern of breathing.
Your DUI attorney in your defense will challenge the evidence produced by the prosecutor in court. After listening to the arguments, the judge may order the defendant to an alternative sentence instead of imprisonment. This alternative may involve the defendant living in an environment that is sober or being placed under house arrest. Even with this, sometimes, the judge can order the defendant to community service.
Additional Causes to Penalty Enhancement
Aside from having a high BAC, other additional factors can cause the penalties in a DUI conviction to be enhanced. Common factors that act as DUI enhancements are:
Prior DUI Records
An existing DUI record in the last ten years will serve as an enhancement of any other subsequent DUI crime. When you have a prior conviction, a defendant may face mandatory imprisonment for other offenses, suspension of their license, and attending a DUI school program. When a person has two previous convictions, the penalties on a fourth offense are more severe, with the charges being those of a felony. According to the law of California, a conviction on felony offenses will lead to state imprisonment.
Declining to Take a DUI Breath Test
The state of California is an implied consent state. This means that when legally arrested on DUI suspicion, you must submit to a chemical breath test to determine your BAC level. A refusal to submit will result in enhanced penalties, with one of them being an automatic suspension of your license. When the DMV suspends your license under these circumstances, you will not qualify for a restricted driver’s license as well.
If you are below the age of 21 or are on DUI probation and are arrested on a DUI suspicion, you must agree to a field sobriety test. Although this is not a must for individuals not falling under this category, those in this category will receive enhanced penalties should they decline.
Even when you have a BAC of 0.08% and are arrested for reckless driving, the penalties you receive are more severe. If you are driving intoxicated at a speed that is 20mph over the legal limit in the street, you will receive sentence enhancement similar to a person driving at over 30mph on a highway.
Driving intoxicated with a minor is an offense in the state of California. Aside from the enhanced punishment to your sentence, the prosecutor may prefer other charges against you, those of child endangerment. The penalties for this offense are severe because of the danger you would be exposing a child to.
DUI with Injuries
When you are responsible for an accident while intoxicated, and it results in injuries to a third party, your penalties will be enhanced. Depending on how significant the injuries are, the offense can take felony status. Penalties for felony offenses are more severe compared to those of misdemeanor offenses.
Legal Defenses to a DUI over .15% Charges
When charged with driving a vehicle while your BAC levels are at 0.15%, hiring an expert DUI attorney is prudent to design strategies for your defense. An experienced attorney can get your charges reduced or get you a plea bargain. Sometimes, an attorney can challenge the evidence produced by the prosecutor successfully and get the charges dismissed altogether.
There are various defense strategies your lawyer can apply in your defense. Some common defenses are:
Challenging the Results From the DUI Tests and Field Sobriety Tests
When investigating a DUI and establishing the level of intoxication, officers can use various methods. One of the first tests a suspected drunk driver is subjected to is the field sobriety test. These tests are designed to test your ability to follow instructions and concentrate. If intoxicated, it may be difficult to ace the test.
Your lawyer, on the other hand, can argue that your reason for failure was due to fatigue, or you were suffering from different ailments. Your eyes can also be watery if you are ill or suffer from specific allergies. There are other ailments if a driver is suffering from that can trick the breathalyzer device. Individuals who have diabetes, for instance, can easily get wrong BAC results.
Additionally, people on a high protein diet produce elements known as ketones. These substances have similar characteristics as alcohol and can easily trick the breathalyzer device to think you are intoxicated. If you had used a mouthwash that contains alcohol prior to a DUI breathalyzer, the results could show high levels of alcohol in your blood.
Field sobriety tests are also not an accurate measure of intoxication. Many factors affect the validity and accuracy of these tests. A successful argument can result in the dismissal of the results from these tests.
The gadgets used for testing the breath of a motorist are subject to failure and often have been reported to give false readings. This argument can also be brought before the court to challenge the validity of the results obtained from these devices.
Failure to Follow Proper Procedures
In administering chemical tests on a suspected drunk driver, there are procedures of carrying out the tests that are regulated under Title 17. Your lawyer can go through the process the officers took to administer the chemical tests and find various mistakes. If he or she is able to argue that the procedure of conducting the chemical test was not followed as per the guidelines, the results obtained from the test can be dismissed as evidence.
Every citizen has a right to the legal arrest process. In some cases, the police can apply excessive force when arresting a DUI suspect. Regardless of whether your BAC level is 0.15%, you can argue the police were brutal to you. If the police did not read you your Miranda rights, this is a violation of the law that can get your case dismissed.
Before the police arrest you for suspected DUI, they must have probable cause for stopping you. For instance, if they noticed you had a broken tail light or you ran a red light or any other traffic offense, they can stop you. In the process, if they discover you are drunk driving, they can launch further investigations to your level of intoxication. However, if they had no reason to arrest you, but they pulled you over anyway, your lawyer can argue that the officer was targeting you, and the arrest was biased. This argument can lead to a dismissal of the charges brought against you as well.
Find a Lawyer Near Me
Generally, the penalties when convicted of a DUI in California are severe. These charges are even steeper should you be found to be driving with a BAC level of 0.15% or higher. When faced with these charges, you need to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to fight these allegations against you. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we have years of experience in assisting our clients in fighting these allegations. Call us at 714-820-9592, and let us discuss your defense.