In California, you can face enhanced penalties if your DUI involved speeding by at least:
- 20 mph more than the posted limit on normal streets, or
- 30 mph more than the posted limit on a highway
This “speed enhancement” carries substantial extra jail time.
However, a speed enhancement only applies if you were also driving in a reckless manner. This means that is is often possible to challenge the speed enhancement, or even the entire DUI, and resolve your case without jail time. In some cases, you may not have to serve penalties at all.
What are the penalties for a DUI speed enhancement?
If you are convicted of the speed enhancement, you will serve:
- All the normal DUI penalties, plus
- A minimum 60 days in jail
Even from a legal perspective, this penalty is staggering. Many DUI cases involve only a few days of jail—often 48 hours or less. In fact, in many first-time DUI cases, the judge will agree to a deal where you serve no jail time at all as long as you complete your probation. Adding 60 days of jail time is a massive extra penalty. It can affect your job, your family life, and your finances. This is why you need to fight it.
How does a prosecutor prove a speed enhancement?
In order to convict you, the prosecutor needs to prove three elements:
- You are guilty of DUI as defined under state law,
- While driving under the influence you were speeding by at least 20-30 mph over the limit, and
- The way you were driving was reckless, in addition to speeding.
In other words, just because the officer clocked you speeding does not mean you can be convicted of a speed enhancement. The prosecutor needs to prove you drove in a reckless manner as well.
What counts as “reckless” driving in a speed enhancement?
The standard for reckless driving is pretty high in California. It means you were doing something that you knew put others in danger. For example:
- Pulling in front of someone and intentionally hitting your brakes on the freeway
- Swerving toward other vehicles in a menacing manner
- Playing chicken
- Driving into oncoming traffic
- Swerving toward a pedestrian
How can I fight a DUI speed enhancement?
Often, the best way is to fight the DUI itself. If you are not convicted of driving under the influence, then the speed enhancement becomes a much less serious charge—often just a speeding ticket.
Your lawyer can help you fight the speed enhancement as well. They can do this by:
- Disputing whether you were really going as fast as the officer said you were. This generally works only if your alleged speed was right on the cutoff—20 to 22 mph over the limit, for example.
- Challenging the claim that you drove “recklessly.”
- Challenging whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you.
You may be able to get your case reduced to exhibition of speed or even win your case altogether.
You Can Win Your DUI
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