All states have laws that prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Each state has its own term for this type of offense, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), and operating under the influence (OUI). Generally, a standard DWI involves a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% to .16% or .17%, and carries with it lesser penalties than an aggravated DWI charge.

In states with driving while intoxicated (DWI), such as New York, an aggravated driving while intoxicated (A-DWI) charge simply means a driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 or higher. However, in New Hampshire and Texas, a BAC of .16% or more is considered an aggravated DWI.

The higher a person’s blood alcohol content, the more impaired they are, and the less likely they will be able to safely operate a motor vehicle. Studies have shown that a person’s response and reaction times greatly decrease as their BAC increases. Because of this, states like New Hampshire and Texas have imposed greater penalties in the form of aggravated DWI for drivers with a BAC of .16% or higher.

What are Some Penalties for Aggravated DWI?

States vary on penalties for a standard DWI and an aggravated DWI charge. A standard DWI charge typically carries with it fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, a six month driver’s license revocation, up to one year in jail, and possible enrollment in an impaired driver program.

In New Mexico, a first a-DWI carries a mandatory jail sentence. Depending on the state, and whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor, an aggravated DWI may come with the following penalties:

  • A $1,000 to $2,500 fine;
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least one year;
  • Up to one year in jail;
  • Possible enrollment in an impaired driver program;
  • Probation; and/or
  • Ignition interlock device.

In New Hampshire, a felony aggravated DWI carries fines of $1000 to $4000, and a jail term of 14 days to seven years. A criminal defense attorney in your area will be able to further advise you of the laws in your state.

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What Happens If a Person Gets a Second Aggravated DWI Charge?

A second aggravated DWI charge within 10 years carries with it the possibility of:

  • A $1,000 to $5,000 fine;
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least 18 months;
  • A jail term of up to four years;
  • A Class E Felony;
  • Enrollment in an impaired driver program;
  • Probation and/or parole; and/or
  • Ignition interlock device.

Plea bargain deals are more difficult to obtain with a first or second aggravated DWI. Factors such as refusal to take a breathalyzer or chemical test will cause further legal difficulty for the defendant.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for an Aggravated DWI Charge?

If you have been charged with an aggravated DWI, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced DUI/DWI lawyer in your area will be able to advise you of your rights, determine a defense for your case, and attempt to negotiate lesser charges with the prosecution. Your attorney will also represent your best interests in court and provide guidance throughout the legal process.