Many people are surprised to learn you can get a DUI even if you were following all traffic laws, but those that do violate traffic laws may face harsher DUI sentencing. For example, you may receive an increased sentence if you were speeding while you were driving under the influence.
Speeding while driving under the influence can result in what is called a sentencing enhancement. This means the standard DUI sentence you would normally face will increase in severity in light of aggravating circumstances. Because speeding while driving under the influence puts other drivers on the road at more of a risk, the state of California will punish you accordingly.
Under California Vehicle Code 23582, those who drive in a reckless manner 20-30 miles over the speed limit will face an additional consecutive 60 days in a county jail on top of their regular DUI sentencing. The defendant will also be ordered to enroll in and complete a drug and alcohol education and counseling program. The speeding designations are as follows:
- 30 miles per hour over the maximum prima facie or posted speed limit on the freeway, or
- 20 miles per hour over the maximum prima facie or posted speed limit on any other highway or street
Prima facie refers to the normal speed limit absent a posted speed limit. These speed limits may be designated by law without being posted and are often included in a driver’s manual.
It is important to point out that different classes of vehicles may be subject to different maximum speed limits, regardless of what the prima facie or posted speed limit actually is. For example, some over-weight vehicles such as commercial trucks, school busses, or cars towing a load are typically subject to lower maximum speed limits. Speed limits for special class vehicles may be posted or can be assumed as prima facie. These are very important to pay attention to because in addition to being subject to lower speed limits, you may face more severe DUI penalties if you drive one of these special class vehicles while under the influence.
It is also important to clarify that speeding alone won’t result in a sentencing enhancement. You must have been driving in a reckless manner to face additional penalties. Reckless driving is defined as driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property. Reckless driving isn’t the same as negligent driving. You must have been aware of the risk you were posing by driving in such a way and continued despite this risk. Recklessness goes beyond a mere oversight or accident. This isn’t as cut and dry of an offense for the prosecution to prove. This is one reason why it is so important to speak with a skilled DUI defense attorney if you are facing a possible sentence enhancement for speeding. If the prosecution cannot prove you were driving recklessly, you may not get the sentencing enhancement. Likewise, if you were simply speeding but did not meet the above requirements, you may not face an additional penalty with your DUI sentencing. Always remember, however, that while there are minimum sentencing requirements for DUIs, the judge does have some discretion in sentencing. Thus, if you were speeding or driving in a particularly unsafe manner while under the influence, you may face additional requirements in your sentencing even if you weren’t driving recklessly.
You could also face an enhanced DUI sentence if you had a high BAC, were driving recklessly but not speeding, caused an accident, damaged property, or injured or killed someone in the act. A DUI under any circumstances can land you in a world of trouble, but an enhanced sentence is something that could significantly impact your life. Some first-time DUI offenders do not have to serve any consecutive days in jail, but with a speeding enhancement you will face 60 additional consecutive days in jail. This could affect your life in many ways. Your job, your family, and your freedom may be on the line.
If you are facing an enhanced DUI sentence because you were speeding, you should speak with an experienced California DUI defense attorney about your case. It is important to take the right steps in your case from the very beginning. An attorney can help you navigate the DUI process and advise you of your rights. A skilled attorney may also be able to challenge any evidence against you in your case or even negotiate a lesser sentence or a plea bargain. When facing an enhanced DUI sentence, it is absolutely worth your time and resources to talk to an attorney about your options.
Are you in the Visalia or Tulare area and facing DUI charges? At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we are experienced in DUI defense and can help you fight your charges. DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens has successfully represented clients in Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties for over ten years and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss your case.