What is a Hardcore Drunk Driver?

"Hardcore drunk drivers," what are they and how are their cases handled? The National Transportation Safety Board has identified two classes of drunk drivers: regular offenders and "hardcore" offenders. When someone is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% and it is their first offense, it’s considered a simple DUI.

If the driver’s BAC registered 0.15% or above, or if it’s their second or subsequent DUI offense, they may be classified as a “hardcore DUI offender.” In California, hardcore DUI offenders face stiffer penalties than those arrested with a lower BAC, or for a first DUI offense. But, this is the state’s approach to crime in general: The penalties get steeper with each subsequent offense. This is understandable since the state is making an effort to deter criminal activity.


There are harsher penalties for those arrested for aggravated DUI (0.15% BAC or higher), and they include: mandatory Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirement, increased license suspension periods, enhanced fines and jail time.

When you were arrested for DUI, did you have a high BAC? If so, an aggravated DUI charge could label you as a hardcore offender. California also has a 10-year lookback period when it comes to DUIs. Repeat DUI offenders are individuals with multiple drunk driving convictions within a 10-year period.

To help get hardcore drunk drivers off the roads, the NTSB recommends that states do the following:

  • Frequent DUI checkpoints.
  • Develop programs that identify people who drive on suspended or revoked licenses.
  • More clearly define repeat DUI offenders as anyone arrested for this type of offense within ten years of a prior arrest.
  • Increase penalties for DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • Implement or more effectively enforce administrative license revocation.
  • Refuse plea bargains in intoxicated driving cases.
  • Do not allow for alcohol or drug diversion programs.
  • Establish sanction programs to conduct random testing, mandatory assessment and treatment of hardcore DUI offenders.
  • Utilize or implement vehicle sanctions such as impoundment and IID installation.
  • Allow for alternatives to jail sentences, such as home monitoring.
  • Demand that all DUI offenders retain a zero BAC at all times.

If you were arrested for DUI, know that California does not enforce all of the NTSB’s recommendations. Orange County’s law enforcement agencies do however, enforce frequent DUI checkpoints and penalties are greater for aggravated offenders, but things such as plea bargaining and diversion programs may still be options in your case.

To fight your DUI charges, contact an Orange County DUI lawyer at our firm today!

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