Aggravating Factors in a DUI ArrestAnyone who has violated their states DUI laws and been arrested for a generic DUI is in for a difficult road involving court dates, DUI attorneys, and possible DUI penalties. Certain factors surrounding a DUI arrest can result in stiffer penalties for the offender. These factors can cause the charge to be upgraded or even carry mandatory jail sentences even if it is a first DUI offense. The factors and prospective DUI punishments may vary by state so it is vital that you consult with an experienced DUI attorney in your state. The following are several examples of circumstances that could lead to an aggravated DUI charge.
Exceptionally High Blood Alcohol Concentration
All states have the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) set at .08%. A person is arrested and charged with DUI when they are driving a vehicle with a BAC over this legal limit. Where many states differ is the amount that is considered extremely high or enough to move the crime to an aggravated DUI status. Many states say that two or more times the legal limit is extremely high. Minnesota, for example, designates .20 BAC to be an aggravating factor. Extreme DUI is another term used by some states to define an aggravated DUI charge.
DUI while Speeding
A person charged with a DUI could also be ticketed for speeding if he was exceeding the speed limit prior to being pulled over. However, if his speed is judged to be excessive, he could increase the severity of his DWI charge. For example, if a person was going 55 in a 30 mph area, he could face a much harsher sentence than if he was only traveling ten miles over the speed limit. In the state of Kentucky, a person driving thirty miles over the speed limit while impaired will receive an aggravated DUI charge.
DUI with Minors Present
Many states take the presence of minors in a vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest very seriously. This situation can bump up a generic DUI to an aggravated DUI charge. Different states have different ages of children that, if present, will trigger the upgraded charge. In North Carolina, a problem arises if the minor is under the age of 16. In Kentucky they are a little more lenient; the minor must be under the age of 12. Furthermore, in some states, all it takes is for children to be nearby. For example, New Jersey allows for aggravated charges to be filed if the DUI offense happened in a school zone.
Driving on a Suspended License
Aggravated charges could also arise when a driver arrested for DUI is also found to be without a legal license. The punishment is more severe because the courts see this as someone deliberately disregarding the law by knowingly operating a vehicle without the legal right to do so.
Habitual DUI Offenders
The purpose of laws and courts is to steer the public away from wrongdoing by punishing crime and attempting to rehabilitate offenders. People who receive multiple DUI convictions display a disregard for the law and the public. As a result, these DUI repeat offenders are almost always given harsher DUI sentences. States have different statutes for punishing habitual DUI offenders, so be sure to consult with a qualified DUI attorney within your own state to know your rights in relation to DUI laws.
Hiring a DUI lawyer
If you are facing a DUI charge or charges with aggravating circumstances, it is always best to consult with an experienced DUI attorney. These cases usually involve harsher DUI penalties, but with the help of a DUI attorney, it could be possible to mitigate or avoid them altogether.