Convicted drunk drivers face severe consequences that include license suspension, jail time, high fines, and mandatory alcohol-education programs. In California, in addition to the driving under the influence (DUI) charge, drivers can incur several “enhancements” that directly influence the severity of consequences imposed during sentencing. The enhancements include drinking and driving with (1) prior DUI convictions, (2) high blood-alcohol (BAC) levels — .15% or more, (3) excessive speeding, (4) chemical test refusals, (5) accident involvement, (6) injury or death related to the DUI, (7) children in the vehicle, and (8) age-related violations.
Sentencing enhancements can result in longer jail time, increased fines, lengthier license suspensions, lengthier attendance requirements in alcohol-education programs, and other more restrictive probation. Sentencing enhancements are generally included at the time charges are filed. However, in some instances they can be added later so long as they do not unfairly endanger a DUI defendant’s right to a fair trial. As with the actual DUI charge, enhancements must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt, before they can be applied to sentencing. Some of the enhancement penalties in California include: