What Is a DUI Enhancement?

A DUI "sentencing enhancement" is an allegation of legal or factual factors part of a dui case that threatens greater punishment to the defendant because of the greater threat to law and safety posed by those factors. The classic "legal" enhancement in this regard is that of the "prior DUI conviction" within 10 years of the current arrest (CVC sec. 23540 and following), which imposes mandatory jail time up to one year, an 18 month alcohol education program, and fines up to $4000. An example of a "factual enhancement" would be an allegation of property damage in the currrent case, which can impose court-ordered restitution, community service and higher fines.

The "high blood alcohol enhancement" (CVC sec 23578) discretionarily (at or above .15%) or mandatorily (at or above .20%) poses up to 9 months of a court-ordered alcohol education program, up to $4000 in fines, and prosepctively 10 months of license suspension. Claims that "I wasn't drunk" or that "somebody must have spiked my drink" are not accepted defenses.

The "refusal enhancement" (CVC sec. 23577) codifies the DMV's prohibition against refusing, or failing to complete, an officer-requested chemical test, the allegation of which mandatorily requires 48 hours/ 2 days jail, minimally. That your friends, or the attorneys advertising at "Big Bazooka DUI," told you "not to cooperate with the cops" should you ever be arrested is not a well-received defense.

The "child endangerment enhancement" (CVC sec.23572) mandatorily poses 48 hours (up to 90 days) jail for those convicted of DUI while driving with a passenger under 14 years of age. "I was being careful..." or "It's my own child, for God's sake!" are inelegant defenses to be used at your peril.

The best answer to your enhanced sentencing is not your selected DUI attorney's enhanced beligerence; if you lose at trial after such bravado, you'll find yourself suffering the higher end of the enhancement sentencing ranges described above. "Strike the enhancement?" is a question you want your attorney to effort to motivate, not attempt to imtimidate, the Prosecutor to answer: "Yes. Your client has earned it." Striking the enhancement is a discretion to be exercised by any California prosecutor, should he so choose. Contact Gold & Witham, DUI Attorneys at Law, at your earliest convenience, to see how we can get you -- and quickly-- to "Yes"!


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