D.U.I. with Minor in Vehicle Resulting in Injury

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What is an Aggravated DUI?

Twenty-five percent of car accident child fatalities are the result of alcohol intoxication. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense with penalties depending on the severity of the crime. When a minor is in the car, many states heighten the crime to a felony, “aggravated,” or “enhanced” DUI.

What are the Results of an Aggravated DUI?

Aggravated DUIs carry longer jail sentences, larger fines, and other fees. DUI sentencing also depends on the “extremity” of the blood alcohol level (BAC), the number of past offenses, and the recklessness of the driving. In Arizona, the only penalty difference between a first time non-extreme DUI and a first time non-extreme DUI with a passenger under a certain age (depending on the state) is that, in the latter case, the fine is much larger – up to $150,000 compared to only $250. However both penalties carry 1 day in jail.  California imposes an additional 48 hours of jail time.

However, if there is an accident and the minor receives injuries, then additional crimes will apply, compounding the penalties. Such crimes include reckless endangerment of a minor, causing bodily injury to a minor, child endangerment, and child abuse.

A car can be used as a dangerous weapon. The court will look at all circumstances, particularly the driver’s state of mind at the time, and can convict a recklessly drunk driver of numerous crimes. If the passenger dies, then charges of vehicular manslaughter or even murder may apply. The fact that the passenger was a minor will increase punishment due to the fact that the driver’s actions will be deemed even more wanton, reckless, and purposeful under the circumstances.

Defense for an Aggravated DUI

One defense is that the driver was too drunk to know that there was a minor in the vehicle. However, the law gives small weight to this argument, unless the person was literally passed out drunk. This defense relies on the fact that a person cannot operate a vehicle with a minor passenger inside while being passed out.

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Last Modified: 04-28-2014 02:49 PM PDT

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