California Vehicle Code 23582 VC is a sentencing enhancement that imposes additional penalties on individuals convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) while driving recklessly and at excessive speeds.
This section aims to deter dangerous driving behavior that increases the risk of severe accidents and fatalities on California roads.
Simply put, VC 23582 is a California DUI sentencing enhancement law that adds a minimum of 60 days in jail to the sentence for a DUI when someone is convicted of Vehicle Code 23152(a) driving under the influence, Vehicle Code 23152(b) driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, and Vehicle Code 23153 DUI causing injury.
Then, at the same time of the offense, they drove over the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour on any other street or highway or 30 miles per hour on a freeway and were driving recklessly.
VC 23582 says, “(a) Any person who drives a vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway, and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103 during the commission of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 shall be punished….”
If you are convicted of DUI and qualify for the sentencing enhancement, you could face 60 days in jail for your offense in addition to the original sentence—even if the initial offense does not result in jail time. Let's review this state law further below.
Elements of the Offense
To make you eligible for the sentencing enhancement under VC 23582, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both;
- You were driving at a speed that was excessive or unsafe for the conditions; AND
- You were driving recklessly while under the influence.
For purposes of the law, driving at "excessive speed" refers to driving at a speed exceeding the legal limit by at least 20 mph on a street or highway or at least 30 mph on a freeway.
This standard applies to posted speed limits and "maximum" or "prima facie" limits on California roads where no speed limit is posted. In California, these limits are:
- 25 mph on public streets;
- 55 mph on 2-lane highways; and
- 65 mph on all other highways.
In addition, driving recklessly means driving in a way that shows a willful disregard for the safety of others—meaning you are aware of the risks of injury to others but choose to ignore them.
It also means driving in a manner that makes injury to others probable, not just possible. Notably, this is a high standard as it requires showing that driving under the influence would injure somebody.
Courts have held that driving under the influence and speeding alone don't rise to the level of a willful or wanton disregard for safety. Thus, since reckless conduct requires a deliberate act, drivers can't be convicted of reckless driving based on negligence.
What Are Some Examples?
EXAMPLE 1: Daniel is clocked by officers driving 85 mph on a two-lane highway and veering multiple times across the double yellow line. When they pull him over, he breathes a BAC of 1.0. Therefore, if convicted of DUI, which is likely, Daniel qualifies for the sentencing enhancement under VC 23582.
EXAMPLE 2: Samuel is on a city street with a posted speed limit of 25 mph. Officers notice him driving at 35 mph and screeching around corners. When they pull him over, he fails the field sobriety tests. Samuel does not qualify for the excessive speed sentencing enhancement because even if his actions were reckless, he was not driving 20 mph over the posted speed.
EXAMPLE 3: Anne is pulled over for driving 96 mph on a freeway and fails the field sobriety test; however, officers did not notice any erratic driving other than the excessive speed. In this case, the sentencing enhancement will probably not stick because there were no signs of wanton reckless driving.
What Are the Penalties for VC 23582?
If you are convicted of DUI while driving recklessly at excessive speeds, the sentencing enhancement under VC 23582 will apply. These mandatory additional penalties are as follows:
- 60 days in county jail in addition to the original sentence. This additional 60-day sentence is mandatory even if the original sentence includes no jail time. So if, for example, your DUI sentence was reduced to probation, you'll still serve 60 days in jail.
- Court-mandated drug/alcohol education and counseling program. If this is your first offense where VC 23582 applies, you must attend state-approved drug or alcohol counseling and education.
What Are the Defenses for VC 23582?
To successfully defend against a Vehicle Code 23582 enhancement, your California criminal defense lawyer may employ various strategies discussed below.
Perhaps we can challenge the DUI charge itself. The enhancement cannot be applied if the underlying DUI charge is dismissed or reduced.
Perhaps we can dispute the excessive speed allegation. The enhancement may be dismissed by providing reasonable doubt that you were driving at an excessive speed by state definitions. For example, the attorney may ask that the radar gun used by the officer be tested for accuracy.
Perhaps we can argue against reckless driving. Demonstrating that your driving behavior did not exhibit a willful disregard for the safety of others can lead to the enhancement being dismissed. This is one of the most common defenses because reckless driving is the most challenging element for prosecutors to prove.
Perhaps the best strategy is to plea bargain for a non-qualifying offense. If it is apparent that the enhancement will apply, your attorney may negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charge to a lesser offense that does not qualify for VC 23582, such as:
- Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC – wet reckless;
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC – dry reckless;
- Vehicle Code 23109(c) – exhibition of speed.
This will allow you to avoid the additional penalties of the sentencing enhancement. Suppose you have been charged with a DUI in California. In that case, contact our law firm to review the case details and legal options. You can contact us by phone or by using the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, CA.