LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Jasen Bodie Nielsen | May 1, 2013

Elevated BAC in a California DUI

The penalties involved in a California DUI case are potentially even worse in cases with an elevated BAC. Exactly what these penalties include and at what alcohol level differ from county to county and sometimes even from court to court within the same county. The additional potential punishment due to an elevated BAC begin if one’s alcohol level is above a 0.15%, becomes more aggravated with an alcohol level above 0.20%, and can become even more extreme with an alcohol level above 0.30%.

BAC > .15%

There are routinely special allegations filed in cases involving a BAC above .15%. In some counties, these special allegations carry extra punishment, including a longer alcohol school and additional, even more stringent terms of probation. Some judges may even require attendance of AA classes while the case is pending and as a term of probation upon conviction.

Unless you are able to have the special allegation stricken, you may have to complete a 9 month Drinking Driver Program if your BAC is above 0.15%. The 9 month program costs nearly much more than the standard 3 month program, and your driver’s license will not become fully valid until you complete it.

In addition to the 9 month program, your probation may also include alcohol and abstain terms, which prevent you from using or possessing alcohol or being anyplace where alcohol is the chief item of sale, such as bars, nightclubs and liquor stores.

BAC > .20%

The same or addtional special allegations are filed in cases involving a BAC above .20%. These special allegations carry even more extra punishment, including the longer alcohol school, mandatory attendance of AA classes, even more stringent terms of probation, and can even include mandatory jail time.

In addition, you will have to complete a 9 month Drinking Driver Program if your BAC is above 0.20%. Your driver’s license will not become fully valid until you complete it. Additionally, your probation may include alcohol and abstain terms, which prevent you from using or possessing alcohol or being anyplace where alcohol is the chief item of sale, such as bars, nightclubs and liquor stores. Increasingly, courts are requiring those with a BAC above 0.20% to attend AA classes while the case is pending and as a condition of probation upon conviction, and some court are requiring people to wear a SCRAM device. An Ignitition Interlock Device may also be required.

BAC > .30%

In DUI cases with extremely elevated alcohol levels, such as those above 0.30%, the judge may impose requirements upon you while your case is pending and even more stringent terms of probation. Some of those requirements may include mandatory attendance of AA classes while your case is pending, the wearing of a SCRAM device, and your probation may include the mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in any vehicle you own or operate.

If you are facing a DUI in California with an elevated BAC, it is imperative that you speak with a local DUI attorney. While the potential punishment is much more severe in these types of cases, it may be possible to attack your case on legal grounds.

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