Driving under the influence (DUI) charges vary in severity depending on a number of factors. For example, the number of previous charges that you have will likely impact what consequences you face. Whether or not you caused a crash and whether there were minor children in your car will also change both the charges and penalties you potentially face after a DUI arrest in California.

Another factor that can influence the penalties and charges against someone is there blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of their arrest. What do the different BAC levels mean for drivers facing a DUI charge in California?

The higher the BAC, the higher the penalties

Generally, only those under the age of 21 and commercial drivers have to worry about a BAC of under 0.08% unless they exhibited very erratic and dangerous driving. However, once your BAC reaches 0.08%, criminal charges are likely. In fact, a higher BAC could lead to aggravated criminal charges.

Once your BAC reaches 0.15% or higher, you will face enhanced penalties. A BAC of 0.15% is considered an excessive level that carries the loss of your licenses for 10 months, potentially mandatory jail and even an order to install an ignition interlock device in your car when you do regain your license. If your BAC is 0.20% or higher, you will have to attend alcohol classes, also called DUI school, that could last for nine months.

Anyone facing impaired driving charges in California, especially those with a high BAC at the time of their arrest, will want to explore all of their legal options have a DUI defendant.