It’s unlikely that any adult over the legal drinking age doesn’t know that driving under the influence is both dangerous and illegal, yet there are still around 1.4 million arrests yearly related to the crime. California treats the crime relatively harsh when compared with most other states, and a conviction can actually land a person in jail for years under the worst of circumstances. This is why it’s imperative for anyone charged with DUI in California to understand what they’re up against.
What is DUI Per Se?
A person who is unsafe to drive due to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged with a DUI in California. This is covered under Vehicle Code 32152(a). It should be noted, however, that actually being in an unsafe condition to drive isn’t the only way to be convicted of the crime. Everyone’s body is unique, and this means that a .08 % blood alcohol content (BAC) could affect two people in completely different ways.
DUI per se laws, however, covered in Vehicle Code 32152(b), ensure that any person with a BAC over .08 percent can be arrested for DUI. It’s not even necessary in these situations for a person to be impaired enough to be unsafe behind the wheel; once they meet the .08 percent threshold on an alcohol breath test, they are considered guilty “per se” (in and of itself). This is certainly a good reason to have DUI checkpoint alerts sent to your cell phone.
Bail for California DUI
Since California counties are allowed to create their own bail schedules, bail amounts for DUI can vary drastically. In some cases, an individual may be lucky enough to be released on their own recognizance. This means they’re free to leave, in exchange for their promise to show up in court, without paying any bail. It should be noted, however, that this won’t always be the case.
Many individuals arrested for DUI are actually booked and then required to post bail before getting out of jail. As mentioned, these amounts will vary by county, but a few circumstances can lead to a definite requirement that a person will have to post a high bail amount. In Santa Cruz County, for instance, a person who has a prior conviction for DUI will face $25,000 bail. This can, of course, get progressively worse. In Sacramento County, for instance, an individual with 5 prior DUIs will actually face a set $100,000 bail amount.
Penalties and Consequences
The penalties for a DUI in California are quite serious, and in reality, it’s easier for some drivers to incur them than others. Underage drivers, for instance, can be charged with DUI per se for having a BAC of .01 percent. Commercial drivers, on the other hand, can be arrested for blowing a .04 percent on the test. In any instance of a failed breathalyzer, the person may face $2,600 in fines and six months in jail for their first conviction.
As is the case with bail amounts in certain counties, penalties for DUI convictions get worse for subsequent convictions. A second DUI conviction in the California, for instance, can land a person in jail for a full year and also lead to a two-year suspension of their driver’s license.
Charges under California’s Vehicle Code 32152(b) ensure that a driver, even if they’re not too intoxicated to drive safely, can be convicted for having a BAC over the legal limit. While legal BAC limits are lower than the traditional .08 percent for underage and commercial drivers, the penalties can be the same. Fortunately for those charged, there are several defenses against DUI charges, and it’s important to remember that no case, even one with breathalyzer evidence involved, is truly “open and shut.”