What Is Aggravated DUI / DWI?
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in and of itself. However, you can make it worse by combining it with other crimes that would lead to you being charged with an Aggravated DUI.
So What Is Aggravated DUI and how is an Aggravated DUI prosecuted in court? You can act in your own best interests and possibly be able to rebuild your future quickly by learning what leads to you being charged with an Aggravated DUI today.
DUI versus Aggravated Driving Under the Influence
You may already know that a DUI is defined as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This crime can lead to serious consequences that include being fined to serving time in jail. However, you can face worse legal ramifications if you are charged with an Aggravated DUI.
What is Aggravated DUI? In its simplest terms, an Aggravated DUI is a DUI that is paired with a factor that makes the offense worse than what it would be by itself. The unique coupling of the DUI with another crime elevates the seriousness of the offense and must be prosecuted more extensively in court.
So what are the factors that could cause you to be charged with an Aggravated DUI rather than a basic charge of driving under the influence? Most states will file aggravated charges against you if you commit any of these other offenses while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
Having Multiple DUI convictions on your record can cause you to be charged with an aggravated offense if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When the officer pulls you over, he or she will check your driving and criminal records. If you have a DUI on your record, you could be charged with an aggravated DWI and face more serious punishments when you go to court.
Multiple DUI offenders are often placed on probation or parole and given terms that include not being arrested for DWI again. If you are stopped for and arrested on an aggravated charge, you may be sentenced to jail and lose your driving privileges for months if not years in the future.
High Blood Alcohol Content Level
Federal law requires that all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, establish the legal blood alcohol limit at 0.08 percent. If you are at or below this legal limit, you will not be arrested for and charged with DWI. Even if you are slightly above this limit, you still might face a misdemeanor charge and walk away with a lesser punishment.
However, you could face aggravated charges if you have a high BAC level that is close to or higher than half the 0.08 percent standard. Most states will file aggravated charges against you if your BAC is 0.15 percent. New Hampshire and Utah will arrest you for aggravated DWI if you have a high BAC level of 0.16 percent.
The aggravated charges stem from the fact that law enforcement considers you to be an exceptional danger to yourself and the public when you have that high of a BAC level. You may even be charged with a felony and face jail time if your BAC level is close to or more than twice the legal limit.
Kids in the Car
Law enforcement will arrest you for aggravated driving under the influence if you have minors present in the vehicle with you. Police will regard you as not only a danger to yourself but also to the children who are riding in the car as well.
Having minors present in the vehicle while you are driving drunk can lead to you being charged with DUI as well as child endangerment or child abuse. The court will not only decide your case based on the level of your BAC at the time of your arrest but also on the fact that you put children’s lives in jeopardy. You may face years in jail if you are convicted on all of the charges filed against you.
You also may be charged with public endangerment as well as aggravated driving while intoxicated if you are driving excessively over the speed limit. Excessive speed combined with being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to aggravated charges as well as legal punishments that might restrict or remove your driving privileges.
If you are not speeding but still driving under the influence, you may face a lesser charge or even only be charged with a misdemeanor. The higher your speed is at the time of your arrest, however, the greater the chance that you might face felony or aggravated DWI charges.
Revoked or Suspended License
Finally, you may face aggravated charges of DWI or DUI if you are driving on a suspended or revoked license. Your license may have been restricted, revoked or suspended to punish your driving behavior and to convince you not to offend again. If you are pulled over and tested for DUI while driving on a license that has been suspended or revoked, chances are that you will be sentenced to jail and have any probation or parole terms to which you were previously sentenced revoked as well.
Aggravated charges of driving under the influence can have long lasting and serious consequences on your life. You may find it difficult to get or keep a job, get a loan, or carry out other tasks that you take for granted.
How can you beat an aggravated charge and move on with your life after you go to court? Your best chances lie with retaining a skilled DUI lawyer to defend you and to act as your legal representative.
Why Hire a DUI Attorney
Why should you hire a DUI attorney after you have aggravated DWI charges filed against you? You have no time to waste when it comes to fighting for your future in court. The prosecutor will use every shred of evidence against you to convince the judge to hand down the harshest of punishments.
Even if you did commit one of the other offenses during the commission of your DUI, you still may not deserve to spend years in jail or pay thousands of dollars in fines. You may already know that you made a grave mistake and have resolved not to drive while intoxicated again.
When you want to avoid the severest of penalties, you need a skilled DWI lawyer working for you. Your lawyer can:
- make sure your arrest was legal
- review the results of your field sobriety tests
- ensure that your rights are protected
- argue down the charges or get the charges dropped if possible
Your attorney may even be able to help you beyond the courtroom by assisting you in keeping your job and your license. You also may be able to keep the details of your arrest under wraps and out of the local newspaper and media if you have an attorney helping you.
With good legal representation, you can hand over the finite details of your defense to someone who knows the state’s aggravated DWI laws and how those laws can be used to safeguard your future. You avoid the burden of defending yourself and instead gain an ally who wants you to walk away with your freedom intact as much as you do.
Aggravated charges of driving under the influence can wreck your life and devastate your finances. You make the circumstances of your arrest worse if you commit other crimes while driving drunk. Defend yourself and safeguard your future by hiring an attorney who knows how to defend you in court and is well-versed in your state’s aggravated DWI laws.
Is a DUI / DWI A Criminal Offense?
When you’ve been driving under the influence, there is a wide range of penalties you could be charged with.
What is a DUI?
A DUI, or driving under the influence, is oftentimes referred to simply as drunk driving and occurs when someone who is operating a motor vehicle of any kind has a blood alcohol content that sits above the legal limit. This limit, as well as the penalties attributed to a DUI charge, varies by state. Most states have set the blood alcohol content limit to .08 while a few states have the limit at .10. These statutes are designed to represent what each state believes is the level at which drivers won’t be able to operate their vehicles safely.
It’s also important to understand that you don’t actually need to be driving on the road when under the influence for you to be charged with a DUI. In some states, you could actually be charged with a DUI if you’re in a parked vehicle with the keys in your hand. This is due to the fact that it would be believed that you’re about to drive while drunk. While this charge is somewhat easier to defend in court than other versions of a DUI, you will still require the services of a DUI lawyer. Any time that it can be assumed that you’re in control of a vehicle, you could be charged with a DUI in most states. In a few states, a DUI can only be levied against someone in the event that they are driving the vehicle.
The reason that the blood alcohol content limit is typically set anywhere from .08 to .10 percent is due to the fact that reports have shown that anything from .08 to .25 percent causes such symptoms as balance issues, lethargy, blurred vision, and sedation. This can quickly lead to very reckless driving, endangering yourself and others. The extent of your punishment depends on several different factors, including how high your blood alcohol content level was and whether or not you’re a repeat offender. In certain cases, it’s possible that you will be charged with a felony DUI, which is the most severe type of punishment that can be levied for driving while intoxicated.
Is a DUI A Criminal Offense?
If you’re wondering “Is a DUI a criminal offense?”, the answer is mostly yes, with the resulting charge ranging from mild to severe. There’s a possibility that driving under the influence will get you a misdemeanor charge, although the primary charge for such a crime is typically a felony DUI. There are times when a DUI conviction will merely lead to administrative punishment, such as having your license suspended, but this is typically reserved for people who were arrested in a vehicle that wasn’t moving at the time. If you’ve ever been arrested for a DUI or a suspected DUI, the first thing you’re going to want to do is contact a DUI lawyer, which is similar to that of a criminal lawyer. They will assist you in making sure that you have your story straight and will attempt to obtain as small of a charge as possible.
Unlike a criminal charge, an administrative one can be administered from the very moment you fail your sobriety test. Some states will take your license away even in the event that you’ve complied with the police entirely. It’s also important to understand that the crimes you can be charged with differ on what type of vehicle you drive. In most instances, the penalties a commercial vehicle driver face are much stiffer.
Penalties Associated With a DUI Charge
Since the penalties associated with a DUI charge can differ wildly depending on which state you live in or the state you’ve been arrested in, it’s better to look at one state as an adequate representation of the others. Let’s take North Carolina as an example. The blood alcohol concentration limit is set to .08 percent for drivers 21 years or older, .04 for commercial drivers, and .04 for anyone who’s been charged with a prior DUI. Those who are younger than 21 can be charged with a DUI if any amount of alcohol is found in their system. The penalties associated with such a charge can include everything from fines and jail time to license suspension or revocation. You would also likely be administered with higher rates when purchasing car insurance in the future.
In the event that you’re charged with a DUI in North Carolina but not yet convicted, you’ll face a number of potential administrative penalties. If you fail the chemical test you’ve been provided with, you’ll face a suspension of your license, including one year for your first offense, four years for your second offense, and a permanent revocation for your third offense. These suspensions occur before you’ve even been convicted of the charge, so make sure you don’t drive when you’ve been drinking.
In NC, there are six levels for a criminal offense, starting from level 5 to aggravated level 1. Each of these charges come with an immediate license suspension of 30 days, with the possibility of obtaining limited driving privileges once 10 days have passed. Each charge also carries with it the requirement to attend a substance abuse assessment if placed on probation. If convicted of a level 5 offense, you’ll be levied with a fine of up to $200 and anywhere from 24 hours to 60 days in jail.
A level 4 offense comes with a fine of up to $500 and between two days and 120 days in jail. A level 3 offense includes a fine of up to $1,000 and between 3 days and six months in jail. A level 2 offense carries with it a fine of up to $2,000 and anywhere from 7 days to 12 months in jail. For a level 1 charge, a fine of up to $4,000 could be levied against you, as can anywhere from 30 days to two years in jail. Lastly, an aggravated level 1 offense comes with a fine of up to $10,000 and between 1 year and 3 years in jail. If you want to receive the best possible sentence for your DUI, you’re going to want to retain the services of a DUI lawyer or criminal lawyer.
How a Lawyer Can Help
In the event that you’ve failed a breathalyzer test and have been charged with a DUI, it’s important that you hire a DUI lawyer or criminal lawyer immediately. A DUI lawyer, in particular, solely works on cases like yours and has the experience necessary to get you the best result possible. Since the penalties attributed to a DUI charge vary wildly, you’ll usually require the services of a DUI lawyer if you wish to be charged with a lesser offense, such as a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony DUI.
Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer comes with a wide range of benefits. For instance, they have familiarity with the court system and understand all there is to know about plea bargains and when to make one. A DUI lawyer is especially important for drivers who have been pulled over for their second offense. A second offense typically comes with very strict and severe penalties that usually result in a felony charge and lengthy jail time.
With a DUI lawyer present, sentence bargaining may be able to get your sentence lessened to a much more favorable outcome. You might also be recommended by one of these lawyers to actually plead guilty, as doing so could allow you to obtain a lesser sentence. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s so important to have a lawyer represent your case once it’s time to go to trial.
If you’ve recently been arrested and charged with a DUI, contact a DUI attorney today so that you can have peace of mind that your case is well represented.