A “sentence enhancement” is an extra penalty for a crime, that’s added on top of the usual penalty under certain circumstances. You will know if you are facing the possibility of a sentence enhancement because it must be in the original “complaint” (court papers) filed by the prosecution. It cannot be added on later during sentencing.
In California, sentence enhancements for DUI are popular because they’re perceived as making the roads safer. They’re also politically popular, and easy to get passed into law.
The most important DUI sentence enhancement relates to prior convictions. California’s entire DUI penalty system relies on the idea that repeat DUI offenders should get harsher penalties than first time offenders. Additionally, there is a laundry list of other circumstances that cause sentence enhancement. We’ll look at both kinds.