From Bad to Worse: 6 Aggravating Factors That Can Lead to Much Harsher DUI Penalties

If you drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you are considered legally intoxicated under California state law and can be arrested for DUI. Given the number of people who are injured or killed in drunk driving accidents every year, tough laws have been enacted to deter impaired driving, but many people still assume that DUI is more of a ‘nuisance’ charge than anything else. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that there is nothing ‘minor’ about a DUI charge. It can cause you to lose your license, pay a punitive fine, and even go to jail. Afterwards, you are stuck with higher insurance rates and can face limited job, housing, and travel prospects due to a criminal record.

Severe as these penalties seem, there are ways that your DUI charge can get even worse. In California, certain aggravating factors can result in even harsher punishments, such as higher fines and longer periods of incarceration. Six of those factors are explained below.

Previous DUI Offenses

If you have three DUI convictions, any subsequent DUI arrest within 10 years of the first one will be charged as a felony. Convictions for ‘wet reckless’, or reckless driving due to alcohol consumption, and convictions from out of state will apply to the tally.

Previous Felony DUI Conviction

If you have a previous felony conviction for DUI, any subsequent arrest for drunk driving within 10 years will be prosecuted as a felony, even if you have a low BAC and were not involved in an accident.

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing

In California there is an administrative license suspension for refusing to submit to chemical testing, along with an increased jail term if you are convicted.

Accident Causing Great Bodily Injury

If you drive with a BAC over the legal limit and get involved in an accident that results in bodily injury, your DUI can be charged as a felony. It doesn’t matter whether the person hurt is you or a passenger: the outcome and consequences are the same.

Child in the Vehicle

Driving under the influence with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle can be charged as a child endangerment enhancement and lead to additional jail time and even a requirement to complete parenting classes.  

Driving on a Suspended License

California law regards driving on a suspended license and driving under the influence as two separate and distinct crimes, but they are often committed together. When that happens, you could face the harshest applicable penalties for both offenses.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in California, it is important to secure experienced legal representation immediately. At the Nieves Law Firm, APC, we will closely examine all of the circumstances pertaining to your case and ensure that all exculpatory or mitigating evidence is presented in your favor. We offer a free initial consultation, so don’t hesitate: call us today or contact us here.

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