California has a Vehicle Code 23578 that provides enhanced DUI penalties for excessive BAC or test refusal. The statute isn’t considered a separate charge as it helps the court consider your alcohol level when determining sentences and probation.
While driving under the influence can result in profound legal implications, including jail time, the consequences are more severe when your BAC is high. You may end up losing your license, get fined, or even end up in jail.
What Is a High BAC?
In California, the legal blood alcohol concentration is 0.08%, and anything higher than that is considered illegal. However, under Vehicle Code 23578, the legal BAC content is anything above 0.15%.
The number of drinks it takes to put a driver over the legal limit is dependent on a few factors, including their sex, weight, medicine, type of drink, and hydration. Therefore, it’s important to note that having the same drinks as someone else might not reflect the same on your BAC given the above factors.
Research suggests that women usually become more intoxicated than men because of their higher proportion of body fat, less water, and hormonal differences. This means that if a man and a woman weighing 150 pounds each had the same type and number of drinks, the lady is more likely to have a higher BAC.
CA Vehicle Code 23578
The CA Vehicle Code 23578 states that if a driver is convicted of having violated section 23152 VC and 23153 VC, the court should consider their BAC level by weight and refusal to take a test as a unique factor to justify any enhanced penalties dished out during sentencing. The enhanced penalties will be used to determine whether the court grants the defendant probation or not.
If the court favors probation over jail time, the penalties will be used to determine any additional terms and conditions regarding the probation. Under VC 23578, the enhanced penalties include but are not limited to:
- Jail time of up to one year in county jail
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license by the DMV
- Installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
- Mandatory DUI classes
- Community service
- Assessment fees and surcharges
- Vehicle impoundment
- A fine of up to $1,000
The CA Vehicle Code 23578 applies to drivers found with:
- A high blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher by weight
- Driving under the influence
- An underlying DUI causing injury
If the prosecution fails to prove any of the above beyond reasonable doubt, the defendant shouldn’t be found guilty.
The penalties may also be enhanced if:
- You had a prior DUI record in the last ten years
- You were driving recklessly
- There was child endangerment
Enhancement for Test Refusal
If law enforcement caught you driving under the influence but refused to submit to a chemical test, the court might increase the penalties under VC 23578. Following a DUI arrest, drivers are mandated to provide a chemical test under California’s implied consent laws.
The consent law states that drivers are considered to have consented to blood, breath, or urine samples after being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the consent law only applies to tests after a lawful DUI arrest meaning that you can refuse to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening breath test before law enforcement makes an arrest.
Possible Defense Strategies for Test Refusal and High Bac in California
After your arrest, it’s crucial that you immediately contact your attorney. This will give them the time to go through all possible defense strategies depending on your case. Your attorney may use any or all of the following tactics to help you get out of your DUI and BAC charge:
Challenging the Legality of the Tests
Under the California consent laws, you are only considered to have consented to tests after your arrest. Before your arrest, the officers need to have probable cause, such as running a red light or having a broken tail light to stop you. If they discover that you were drunk driving, they are within the law to further investigate.
However, if they had no reason for stopping or arresting you, your attorney may argue that law enforcement did not make an arrest before asking you to take tests, meaning they forced you into taking tests without any conviction. Your lawyer might also argue that the officers targeted you for one reason or the other.
Additionally, the lawyer may look at the process the officers used to give the tests. If they determine that law enforcement didn’t follow the guidelines and proper protocol, your lawyer may be able to get the results obtained dismissed as evidence.
Questioning the Accuracy of the Chemical Test Results
Suppose your lawyer can cast a shadow of doubt about the reliability and accuracy of the chemical tests. In that case, the jury may dismiss the case on the grounds that the prosecutor failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Chemical DUI testing poses several problems which may favor your case. For example, if the individual conducting the test fails to adhere to proper procedures, it may reduce the test result’s accuracy.
Likewise, if the machine wasn’t adequately cleaned after prior testing, calibrated, or serviced, it may lead to inaccurate testing. Medical issues such as diabetes, medications, and some food or drinks can also lead to a falsely skewed high BAC reading.
CA Vehicle Code 23578 Los Angeles DUI Attorney Near Me
The penalties of a DUI conviction are severe and have long-lasting implications on your life. The charges are even steeper if you are caught driving with a high BAC of 0.15% and higher. If you or anyone you know is facing enhanced DUI penalties for excessive BAC or test refusal, it’s advisable to contact an experienced DUI attorney to contest these allegations.
If you don’t know where to start, we can put you through with a skilled Los Angeles DUI attorney and help you get a free consultation. Contact us today to get the wheels rolling.