Aggravated DUI refers to specific aggravating factors in a DUI case resulting in enhanced penalties. The penalties can be enhanced by raising the range of potential sentences or raising the actual charge to a higher level, which depends on the state’s laws where the DUI prosecution occurs.

It is essential for defendants facing DUI charges to look closely at the state’s laws that have brought the charges because the factors and potential punishments will differ between states.

How Is Aggravated DUI Classified?

A first drunk driving conviction is normally a misdemeanor under the drunk driving regulations of most states. Nevertheless, aggravated drunk driving can constitute a felony charge, leading to more drastic punishments for convicted drivers of aggravated DUI.

What Are Some Examples of Aggravated DUI situations?

Certain situations can result in enhanced penalties for driving under the influence (DUI), such as:

  • Extremely High Blood Alcohol Concentration: States have established 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. Yet, when a suspected DUI driver has a very high BAC, such as two or more times the legal limit, that individual can be charged with aggravated DUI, also known as an “extreme DUI.” This offense can lead to more significant prison terms and higher fines.
  • Multiple DUI convictions: If the driver had had numerous DUI convictions, even when one or more of these convictions happened in a different state, that individual could receive an elevated sentence from the court. Furthermore, states give more harrowing punishments to repeat offenders to discourage people 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 demonstrated a blatant indifference to the law by driving on a suspended or revoked license, they can encounter increased penalties.
  • Minors in the Vehicle: An aggravated DUI charge can also result from the presence of children in the vehicle when the DUI arrest took place. States have different age ranges for minors, 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 crime took place in a school zone, regardless of whether kids 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 a certain amount exceeds the person’s speed limit. For instance, if the defendant drove 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, that defendant can face a much higher sentence than 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 Legal Issues Can I Face for Drunk Driving?

Drunk driving is a serious offense that can lead to significant consequences. Depending on your state’s regulations, a person is generally legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or 0.10%.

Suppose a person chooses to operate a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or taking drugs that impair their senses. In that case, it can result in having to face many legal ramifications, such as getting ticketed, criminally fined, arrested, and charged for driving while intoxicated (DWI), or the more commonly known term, driving under the influence (DUI).

While an individual who has been charged with drunk driving usually only receives a misdemeanor for their first offense, they can still be charged with a felony if they have hurt another individual or caused damage to property. A person may also encounter felony charges if it was not their first drunk driving offense.

Further, though most states will charge a drunk driver with a DUI, every state has its own set of standards for what is deemed a drunk driving offense and different varieties of the potential charges that may apply.

Finally, it is essential to mention that drunk driving is more than just a traffic citation; it is deemed a criminal offense. If you are convicted of a drunk driving offense, it will appear on your criminal record.

What Tests Are Used to Determine Intoxication?

If a police officer suspects that a person is driving drunk, they will have probable cause to pull that individual over. This can happen under many circumstances, including when they see that a person is speeding or swerving all over the road and if they observe alcohol or drug paraphernalia (e.g., certain types of pipes) in the car.

After a person gets pulled over, a police officer will likely ask that they step out of the vehicle and ask them to take one of the following tests to resolve whether they are sober:

  • Breathalyzer: This is a handheld device that calculates the concentration of alcohol in a person’s system by having them blow into it. It can be issued at either the scene where the car was pulled over or at a police station.
  • Blood or Urine Testing: This test is more complex as it requires a medical professional to do the testing and produce lab results. Further, the police will need to get a warrant first. Therefore, this test is not generally administered at the scene.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: These are typically given at the scene and include a variety of different activities that are designed to test a person’s balance and dexterity, such as touching a finger to your nose, reciting the alphabet, or standing on one foot while counting.

What Are Some of the Penalties for Aggravated DUI?

Aggravated drunk driving is normally a felony charge in most cases, and this can permanently affect an individual’s criminal record and can lead to:

  • Incarceration;
  • Community service;
  • Long probation terms;
  • Substantial fines;
  • Loss of license;
  • Vehicle confiscation;
  • An increase in insurance rates; or
  • Getting disqualified for specific jobs.

How Many DUI Convictions Can Someone Have Before They are Charged with Aggravated DUI?

The particular state’s laws in which you are charged determine 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 to be charged with an aggravated DUI.

Are There Other Possible Penalties?

Administrative License Revocation or Suspension (ALR/ALS) laws enacted in most states allow an arresting officer to seize the license of drivers who fail or refuse to take a breath test. Under these regulations, the license is automatically revoked or suspended before the driver is convicted of drunk driving. This administrative penalty is entirely separate from any criminal penalties the driver may face.

Those convicted of a DUI can face other consequences, ranging from community service and fines to jail time. States can also demand that an Ignition Interlock Device, a device that requires the driver to take a breath test before starting the engine and locks the car if the device detects alcohol, be installed on all cars owned. Many states also count numerous offenses as a felony, preventing the offender from finding employment when background checks are conducted.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Committing an aggravated DUI is a severe criminal offense, and you can face stiff punishments. What constitutes an aggravated DUI can also depend on state law, and it is essential to be familiar with the law of the state where the incident took place. It would be beneficial to consult with an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer before proceeding.