There are a variety of penalty enhancements that can significantly increase the punishment imposed for a DUI conviction.
California Speed Enhancement
One of the enhancements that carries the most severe penalties is the speed enhancement under California Vehicle Code Section 23582. Unlike other enhancements which may tag on a few days in jail, a longer class, or higher fines to the underlying DUI sentence, the speed enhancement adds a full 60 days to whatever sentence is imposed on the DUI charge.
DUI Plus Speed Enhancement
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23582, an additional 60 days in jail will be imposed on defendants who were convicted of violating California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) (driving under the influence), California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above) or California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (DUI causing injury), who were driving between 30 miles per hour over the speed limit on a freeway or 20 mph over the speed limit on any other road and who drove recklessly. All three elements must be present before a defendant can be sentenced to the additional 60 days.
It is important to note that the penalty enhancement requires speeding in addition to reckless driving. Thus, despite being referred to as a "speed enhancement," speeding on its own is not enough to trigger penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 23582. The prosecutor must be able to establish additional reckless driving as defined in California Vehicle Code Section 23103. Reckless driving is formally defined by statute as driving in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property. Courts have found activities such as excessive swerving at high speeds, aggressively cutting off other drivers and playing chicken with other vehicles on the road as conduct that would be considered reckless driving under the law.
Prima Facie Speed Limit
California Vehicle Code Section 23582 also requires that the driver was traveling 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie or posted speed limit on a freeway or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie or posted speed limit on any other street or highway. The "prima facie" speed limit refers to the normal speed limits when there is no posted speed limit. This is considered to be 65 mph on freeways and 25 mph on other streets. Legislators, prosecutors and judges recognize the extraordinary danger posed by DUI drivers who drive recklessly at excessive speeds, and so the additional jail time is required by law.
It is important to remember that the DUI speed enhancement under California Vehicle Code Section 23582 only applies to those who are first convicted of a driving under the influence offense or DUI causing injury. If the defendant pleads to a reduced charge, such as wet reckless under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 or exhibition of speed in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c), the speed enhancement would be inapplicable.
Alcohol Education for Those Convicted
In addition to 60 day in jail, California Vehicle Code Section 23582 also requires that the defendant attend and complete a drug and alcohol education program. This program is typically the same one that would be required for the underlying DUI conviction, and the defendant would not have to take additional classes.
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