VC 23578 In addition to any other provision of this code, if a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 [DUI laws], the court shall consider a concentration of alcohol in the person’s blood of 0.15 percent or more, by weight, or the refusal of the person to take a chemical test, as a special factor that may justify enhancing the penalties in sentencing, in determining whether to grant probation, and, if probation is granted, in determining additional or enhanced terms and conditions of probation.
In the state of California, a variety of factors can be taken into account to add sentence enhancements to a DUI charge. VC 23578 is probably the most common sentence enhancement of all. In fact, it actually covers two common sentence enhancements, “Refusal” and “Excessive Blood Alcohol.” These are two completely separate factors, both covered under one law.
Excessive Blood Alcohol
California’s “legal limit” is .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you’re under that limit you may or may not be considered under the influence. If you’re over the limit you are presumed to be under the influence. .08% is “impaired.”
But the higher you are over the limit, the more impaired you are, and the more dangerous your driving is assumed to be. If you test at or above .15% you are considered to have excessive blood alcohol. .15% is nearly twice the legal limit, and it brings a sentence enhancement under VC 23578.
“Refusal” under VC 23578
When you got a driver’s license in California, you implicitly agreed that you would take a chemical test (blood, breath or urine test) if you’re ever arrested on suspicion of DUI. This is the legal doctrine of “implied consent”— you cannot refuse the test once you’re arrested, because you consented to it the moment you got behind the wheel. The courts are firm about this, because they need the result of the chemical test to know how to proceed with your case.
If you refuse, you are breaking the law under VC 23578. You can learn more about refusal here.
Penalties for VC 23578
The penalty for VC 23578 is essentially a “tougher” form of the normal DUI sentence. For example, on a first time DUI, you will likely receive a minimum 6-month suspension (instead of about four months) and nine months of mandatory DUI classes (instead of three months). You may also receive more jail time, higher fines, additional court ordered penalties such as community service, and/or a longer probation period. If you have previous DUI’s, the VC 23578 enhancement can be even tougher.
Have you been charged with Refusal or Excessive BAC? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.