What Factors Will Affect My DUI Charge?

empty shot glasses at a bar with car key inside one

From an outside perspective, DUI is a simple offense; the driver has alcohol or drugs in their system, they are caught, and they are charged. However, there are actually numerous factors that can affect the driver’s charges and potential penalties. Let’s discuss some of the factors that matter when it comes to DUI charges and sentencing.

Factor 1: BAC Results

BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration. This is what is measured through a breath test to evaluate the driver’s level of sobriety. These results matter in a couple of different ways.

First, the results will show whether or not the driver is over the legal limit. The breath test results will show the driver as either above or below the limit of 0.08%. If they test above that threshold, they will most likely be arrested based on that evidence alone.

Second, the BAC test will dictate how far above the legal limit the driver is. It is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, but did you know that drivers can face enhanced penalties depending on how far above the legal limit they are? If the driver’s BAC level is 0.15% or above, the potential penalties for the DUI can increase.

Factor 2: Passengers

A lot of drivers are alone in their vehicle at the time of their arrest. However, some do have passengers riding with them. Generally, having adult passengers in the vehicle at the time of the stop will not affect the DUI charge and penalties. However, the age of the passenger(s) does matter. If a child under 14 is in the vehicle, then the driver will face enhanced penalties and potentially a separate criminal charge for endangering the minor.

Factor 3: Speed

The speed at which the driver was traveling could impact their DUI charge. If they were driving 20 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit, they can face enhanced charges.

On highways, the driver can face enhanced penalties for traveling 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Factor 4: Past Record

If the driver has any past record of DUI convictions, this will complicate the case. Repeat offenses lead to increasingly severe penalties.

First offense DUI in California is punishable by:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

A second offense DUI within ten years of the first will cause the penalties to increase:

  • 96 hours to one year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • License suspension for two years

For a third DUI, the driver faces:

  • 120 days to one year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • License suspension for three years

The lookback period in California is 10 years, meaning that any offenses within 10 years of your first offense will be considered repeat offenses.

Factor 5: Damages

A standard DUI case involves the driver being stopped and arrested before any damage is done. However, if the impaired driver causes an accident that leads to someone’s injury or death, their charge could be increased to a felony offense.

Additionally, if the driver causes an accident and leaves the scene, they could face additional hit and run charges and penalties.

Factor 6: Chemical Test Refusal

If the driver refused to take a mandatory breath, blood, or urine test, then they will face implied consent penalties in addition to any DUI charges. This is typically a period of license suspension as a penalty for refusing chemical testing.

DUI Defense in Fresno, California

Whether you are facing standard DUI charges or your case involves any of these aggravating factors, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney to have the strongest possible defense. Contact our legal team at Schweitzer & Davidian for assistance with your criminal DUI case in Fresno. We bring powerful defense you can depend on.