Aggravated DUI refers to the presence of certain aggravating factors in a DUI case which can result in enhanced penalties. The penalties can be enhanced by either increasing the range of potential sentences or by raising the actual charge to a higher level which depends on the laws of the state where the DUI prosecution takes place.
It is important for defendants who are facing DUI charges to look closely at the laws of the state which has brought the charges because the factors and potential punishments will vary between states.
How is Aggravated DUI Classified?
A first drunk driving conviction is typically a misdemeanor under the drunk driving laws of most states. However, aggravated drunk driving can constitute a felony charge and this leads to harsher punishments for drivers who are convicted of aggravated DUI.
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What are Some Examples of Aggravated DUI situations?
There are certain situations which can result in enhanced penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) such as:
- Extremely High Blood Alcohol Concentration: States have set a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration at .08%. It is assumed that anyone who drives with a BAC over the legal limit has committed DUI. However, when a suspected DUI driver has a BAC that is very high such as two or more times the legal limit, that individual can be charged with aggravated DUI which in this case is also known as an “extreme DUI”. This offense can lead to greater prison terms and higher fines.
- Multiple DUI convictions: If the driver has had multiple DUI convictions, even when one or more of these convictions occurred in a different state, that individual can receive an elevated sentence from the court. Also, states give harsher punishments to repeat offenders so that people are discouraged from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after their first DUI conviction.
- Suspended or Revoked License: If the DUI defendant is caught driving on a suspended or revoked license, this can lead to an aggravated DUI charge. Because the defendant has shown a blatant disregard for the law by driving on a suspended or revoked license, they can face increased penalties.
- Minors in the Vehicle: An aggravated DUI charge can also result from the presence of minors in the vehicle when the DUI arrest took place. States have different age ranges for a minor which can trigger enhanced DUI penalties such as requiring a minor to be younger than 16 or setting the maximum age for the minor at 12. There can also be increased penalties for a DUI conviction if the offense took place in a school zone, regardless of whether children were present in the car.
- Excessive Speed: A DUI defendant can be charged with excessive speed in addition to DUI. In some states, excessive speeding can also result in an aggravated DUI charge if the person exceeded the speed limit by a certain amount. For example, if the defendant drove 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, that defendant can face a much higher sentence than they would have if they had driven 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
- Accidents: If you were involved in an accident and if a person was injured, killed or you caused property damage, you could face an aggravated DUI charge.
What are Some of the Penalties for Aggravated DUI?
Aggravated drunk driving is typically a felony charge in most cases and this can permanently affect an individual’s criminal record and can lead to:
- Community service;
- Long probation terms;
- Substantial fines;
- Loss of license;
- Vehicle confiscation;
- Increase in insurance rates; and/or
- Getting disqualified for certain jobs.
How Many DUI Convictions Can Someone Have Before They are Charged with Aggravated DUI?
The laws of the particular state in which you are charged determines the number of DUI convictions you can have before you are charged with aggravated DUI. In some states, two prior DUI convictions can lead to a charge of aggravated DUI while in other states, you have to have four or five prior DUI convictions in order to be charged with an aggravated DUI.
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Should I Contact a Lawyer?
Committing an aggravated DUI is a serious criminal offense and you can face stiff punishments. What constitutes an aggravated DUI can also depend on state law and it is important to be familiar with the law of the state where the incident took place. In this context, it would be beneficial to consult with an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer before proceeding.