Aggravated driving while intoxicated or aggravated DUI means that there were factors in your DUI that cause the courts to take it more seriously. In California, these are known as enhancements. State law says that a DUI is more serious, and may carry harsher penalties, when any enhancement is present.
The most common enhancements or aggravating factors are:
- Very high blood alcohol concentration (BAC),
- Excessive speeding,
- You have a previous DUI on your record in the past 10 years, or
- You refused to take a blood, breath or urine test after you were arrested for DUI.
Other less common enhancements include injuring or killing someone, injuring or killing multiple victims, and having a minor in the car while you drove under the influence.
How does aggravated DUI differ from normal DUI?
You can be convicted of DUI even if no aggravating circumstances or enhancements are involved. A normal DUI means that you either:
- Drove a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or a drug, or
- Drove a vehicle while you had a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more.
The penalties for this kind of DUI include jail time, large fines, a suspended drivers license, and mandatory DUI school.
If there are aggravating circumstances, however, the court sees your case as particularly bad. It could mean that you are viewed as posing a strong threat to other drivers (such as excessive speeding), or it could simply be that you are viewed as flagrantly ignoring the law (such as repeat DUIs). In many cases, state law says that you must face a tougher sentence for an aggravated DUI, and the prosecutor will seek that tougher sentence. In other cases, it will be up to the judge whether to show leniency or not.
Aggravated DUI can carry additional penalties such as extra jail time, extra fines and more.
Can I fight an aggravated driving while intoxicated charge?
Yes, and it is possible to win these cases. But you need to understand that neither the prosecutor nor the judge are inclined to help you when aggravating factors are present. The prosecutor knows they can get a tougher-than-normal sentence, and they have little incentive to offer you a deal. The judge, meanwhile, may view your case as particularly egregious and want to be strict at sentencing. This means you need a qualified DUI lawyer who works with you from the beginning to develop a strong defense.
Your lawyer may:
- Dispute the accuracy of the chemical test
- Get evidence thrown out if police violated procedures
- Question whether the initial arrest was legal
- Attack the evidence of the aggravating factor, potentially removing it from the case
A good lawyer will whittle down the case against you until it’s weak and the prosecutor either offers you a deal or potentially loses in court. In many cases, they can get the charges dropped or reduced to a much less serious offense.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.