Factors that Can Aggravate a DUI Charge – Guest Post

Aggravate a DUI Charge

The potential penalties for driving under the influence are already severe, but the presence of aggravating factors can make things go from bad to worse really quick.

The possible consequences for a standard DUI can include fines, jail time, probation, community service, revocation of driving privileges, and IID installation. In most states, offenders will also have to submit to either an in-person or online alcohol screening and enroll in an alcohol treatment program or online DUI courses.

However, when there are aggravating factors involved in a DUI case, the potential penalties can be much harsher. The crime may be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony and the defendant may face time in prison. Here are the factors that can aggravate a DUI charge:

Aggravating Factors in a DUI

Certain factors can turn a DUI offense into aggravated DUI. During the hearing of the case, the prosecution may cite the following reasons to aggravate a DUI charge:

1. Fleeing from an Officer

DUI offenders who flee or fail to pull over for police may find themselves facing increased penalties such as higher fines or additional jail time. In some cases, fleeing can potentially result in an additional misdemeanor or felony charge.

2. Refusal to Test

During a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will typically ask the driver to submit to a test. Many people don’t know this, but it is within your rights to refuse a field sobriety test as it is a very unreliable way to test for DUI. However, refusing a chemical test (such as a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test), when the arresting officer has probable cause to require one, may result in additional charges, increased fines, and even jail time.

3. High BAC Level

The BAC limit in most states is at 0.08 percent. This means that anybody caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of over 0.08 percent will be charged with DUI. However, not all BAC levels receive the same punishments. A high BAC DUI offense (more than 0.10 percent BAC) and highest BAC DUI offense (more than 0.159 percent BAC) will incur more severe consequences such as longer jail time and larger fines, among other things.

4. Driving on a Suspended License

You have no business driving a car without a valid license. Driving under the influence already demonstrates obvious contempt for traffic laws and carries serious repercussions. Add driving on a suspended or revoked license on top of that and you can expect for the consequences to be more dire. 

5. Multiple DUI Convictions

If you have already been convicted of DUI, expect to face increased penalties for your second DUI offense and even higher for your next convictions. This includes earlier convictions that occurred in other states. The court bestows heavy punishments on DUI offenses to dissuade the defendants from committing the same mistake in the future.

6. Child Endangerment

Another factor that can enhance the severity of a DUI offense is the presence of minors in the vehicle during the arrest. However, the minor should fall within a specific age range in order to aggravate a DUI. In some states, the child has to be 12 years old or younger, while other states set the maximum age limit at 16 years old. Getting arrested for a DUI in a school zone can also increase the penalties, regardless of whether or not there is a child inside the vehicle.

7. Death and Serious Physical Injury

A DUI offender is likely to receive life-changing consequences and be charged with aggravated assault if his or her recklessness ends up causing serious physical harm to another person. Aggravated assault while DUI is a second-degree felony and conviction could mean up to ten years in prison. If the DUI resulted in a fatality, the convicted driver may face up to a lifetime behind bars. 

Seeking Legal Assistance for Aggravated DUI

Due to the severity of the consequences of a possible DUI conviction, anybody arrested for DUI should seek the help of a DUI lawyer to represent them in court. This is even more critical in cases involving aggravating factors, as the prosecution is unlikely to consent to a plea bargain.

An experienced DUI attorney can help you build a better defense and obtain a lesser sentence or, even better, get the charges dropped. They can bargain with the prosecutor to secure a much favorable outcome for your case.

About the Author

Lauren Kunis is the Content Marketing Strategist for Stonewall Institute, an outpatient alcohol and drug treatment center that focuses on a holistic, individualized approach to addiction recovery. She loves reading books, travelling, and going on hiking adventures with her dog Max.

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