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Los Angeles DUI: BAC Above 0.20 Percent

Los Angeles DUI: BAC Above 0.20 Percent

Getting pulled over for a DUI is scary enough, but getting charged with a DUI for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.20% brings even harsher consequences. This article will break down what happens when you get a DUI with a BAC above the 0.20% limit in Los Angeles.

What is Considered a High BAC in California?

In California, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher if you are over 21 years old. This is considered the legal limit [3]. However, a BAC above 0.20% is considered particularly high and excessive. According to California law, a BAC above 0.15% is defined as excessive [5].

To give you an idea of how much alcohol it takes to reach these BAC levels:

  • For a 120 lb woman:
    • 0.08% BAC = 3 drinks in 1 hour
    • 0.15% BAC = 5 drinks in 1 hour
    • 0.20% BAC = 7 drinks in 1 hour
  • For a 160 lb man:
    • 0.08% BAC = 4 drinks in 1 hour
    • 0.15% BAC = 6 drinks in 1 hour
    • 0.20% BAC = 8 drinks in 1 hour

As you can see, reaching a BAC of 0.20% requires consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. This level of intoxication significantly impairs your ability to drive safely.

Penalties for DUI Over 0.20% BAC

In Los Angeles, a first-time DUI conviction over 0.20% BAC can lead to the following consequences:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail
  • Fines up to $1000 plus penalty assessments
  • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year
  • 3-9 months of DUI classes
  • Installation of ignition interlock device (IID) for 1 year

In addition, your insurance rates will skyrocket. A first-time DUI can increase your premiums by an average of $1,800 per year for 3 years . However, a DUI above 0.20% BAC is likely to result in even higher premium hikes.

If this is your second DUI offense, the consequences are even more severe. You may face up to 1 year in jail, fines up to $1000 plus assessments, an 18-24 month license suspension, and an IID requirement for 2 years . Your insurance rates could also double compared to a first offense.

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Aggravating Factors

Certain circumstances may also enhance the penalties if you are charged with a high BAC DUI in Los Angeles. These include:

  • Traffic collision: If your drunk driving results in an accident with injuries or property damage, you may face additional criminal charges like reckless driving. The injuries, damage amount, and your level of fault in the crash will also be considered during sentencing.
  • Child passengers: If you had passengers under 14 years old in your vehicle when you were arrested, your DUI penalties may be enhanced. This is especially true if any of the minors were injured.
  • Speeding 20+ mph over limit: Excessive speeding can turn a DUI charge into a “DUI with injury” felony offense in California. Even without an accident, speeding over 20 mph over the limit leads to extra fines and jail time if combined with a DUI.

Defenses Against High BAC DUI Charges

Because the penalties for BAC over 0.20% DUI charges are so severe, it is critical to examine potential defenses with your attorney. Here are some common defenses used in Los Angeles high BAC DUI cases:

  • Illegal traffic stop: If the officer did not have probable cause to pull you over in the first place, any evidence gathered after that point may be inadmissible. This includes the results of your breath or blood test.
  • Faulty breathalyzer: Breathalyzers can produce inaccurate readings if not properly calibrated or administered. Your attorney can examine if the device was working correctly.
  • Medications: Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause elevated BAC readings on a breathalyzer, even if you were not impaired. Your lawyer can argue the readings do not reflect your true level of intoxication.
  • Rising BAC: It takes time for alcohol to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream. So it’s possible your BAC was actually below 0.20% when you were driving but then rose by the time you were tested. A forensic toxicologist may be able to estimate your true BAC based on your weight, gender, food intake, and other factors.

An experienced DUI lawyer can help investigate whether any of these defenses apply in your case. They may be able to negotiate reduced charges or even get your case dismissed altogether.

Long-Term Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties, a conviction for DUI over 0.20% BAC can negatively impact your life for years to come. Some long-term consequences include:

  • Employment: Many employers require background checks and will not hire applicants with a recent DUI. Some professions, like driving jobs, will not allow you to work at all with a DUI on your record.
  • Housing: Landlords frequently deny housing applications for those with a DUI conviction. This can make finding an apartment extremely difficult following a DUI arrest.
  • “Habitual traffic offender”: Multiple DUIs on your record over a certain period can lead to you being declared a “habitual traffic offender” in California. This results in a license revocation for 3-5 years.
  • Social stigma: There is still a strong social stigma associated with DUI arrests. The damage to your reputation can be severe, especially in professional circles.

Because of the lasting effects on your life, it is wise to seek legal counsel if facing DUI charges over 0.20% BAC. An attorney may be able to plea bargain for a reduced offense, such as a wet reckless charge. This can help minimize the impact on your future.

Get a Consultation Today

Being arrested for DUI is a frightening experience on its own. But add in a BAC reading over 0.20%, along with the increased penalties, and it can feel downright overwhelming. Don’t go through this alone. Connect with a knowledgeable DUI attorney in Los Angeles to discuss your case. They can help put together a strong defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t leave your future up to chance – get the legal help you need and deserve.

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