Excessive BAC is a sentence enhancement for DUI. It means you will face tougher penalties if your blood alcohol level was over .15% or .20%.
In California, the “legal limit” for how much alcohol you can have in your system is usually (but not always) .08%. You can still be convicted of DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below this limit, but it’s much less likely. However, if your BAC is far above the legal limit, you can face extra penalties. This is known as an “excessive blood alcohol” or excessive BAC charge.
Excessive BAC is a sentence enhancement. That means it’s not a separate criminal offense, and you will only face the penalties if convicted of your DUI charge. The idea behind excessive BAC is that if you have more alcohol in your system, you must be a more dangerous driver. The more you put others at risk, the tougher the sentence you should face.
California has established two different thresholds for excessive blood alcohol:
- A BAC of .15% or higher, but not .20%
- A BAC of .20% or more
If convicted, both forms of excessive BAC will typically mean a longer license suspension, longer jail sentence, higher fines, and often a longer version of DUI traffic school—plus mandatory use of an interlock device. The .20% version will also mean mandatory alcohol treatment.
The best way to defend against an excessive blood alcohol charge is to dispute the results of the chemical test that “proves” your BAC. These tests are often flawed and your DUI lawyer will know how to fight them. Successfully discrediting a chemical test can also help you win your DUI charge.
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