What Is Considered An Aggravated DUI in California?
In most states, getting arrested, paying bail, tried, and convicted and sent to jail and prison for driving under the influence or DUI is bad enough. After all, it does carry several penalties, some of them quite harsh especially in states that have more stringent DUI laws.
This most common of crimes, however, can get even worse for the offender if there are aggravating circumstances. Being charged with aggravated DUI means you could be charged with a felony, the penalties for which are even more severe than a misdemeanor, under which most simple DUI charges fall.
So if you’re arrested for a DUI in California, what factors would turn a simple DUI into an aggravated DUI charge?
Getting a DUI with suspended driving privileges
Anyone arrested in California on suspicion of DUI will likely face an aggravated DUI charge if authorities later find out that the driver has been driving with a suspended, revoked, restricted, refused, or canceled license.
Multiple DUI convictions in 10 years
If you already have multiple prior convictions for DUI, being arrested for another in California certainly means a felony DUI case against you, particularly if your multiple DUI convictions happened within the last 10 years.
Minors in the vehicle
Being caught by the police for a DUI when you have a passenger who is below the age of 14 often means additional jail time upon conviction. A first offense will get you a mandatory 48 hours in jail. A second DUI arrest with a minor in your vehicle, meanwhile, will get you 10 days of mandatory jail time. A third offense automatically means 30 days in jail.
Driving under the influence with an underage passenger could also lead to child endangerment charges that could get you 30 days in jail as well as one year of mandatory parenting classes.
Blood or breath test refusal
You could be facing the prospect of an aggravated DUI charge if you refuse to submit to a blood or breathalyzer test at the time of your arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you are found to have refused a chemical test under California’s “Admin Per Se” laws your license will bge suspended for a year. It will be suspended for two years if there is a prior refusal.
Driving with a BAC of 0.20%
If your blood alcohol concentration or BAC at the time police stopped your vehicle is at .08%, then you will likely be booked for DUI. However, if your BAC is at more than .20%, which is two and a half times the legal limit, then you can expect much heavier penalties to be handed down by the court, even if it’s your first DUI arrest. This includes the mandatory installation of an interlock device.
Driving with a BAC of 0.08% gets you in trouble. Driving by at least 30 mph over the speed limit on a freeway or 20 mph on a regular road with a BAC of 0.08% means the addition of 60 more days to any sentence that a court may hand down on you.
Accident causing injury or death
If you cause an accident while driving under the influence and it leads to injuries or loss of life, you are liable to face felony DUI charges, which could range from “DUI causing injury” as stipulated by California Vehicle Code 23153 VC to a “Watson murder,” which is a form of second-degree murder charge under California Penal Code 187.
Consequences of aggravated DUI in California
The penalties that come with a regular DUI conviction are already quite serious, but the aggravating factors mentioned above can only make things worse for you.
A conviction for a simple DUI in California could mean up to six months in county jail, fines that could reach $2,000, and the suspension of your drivers’ license, among other things. While some cases of aggravated DUI could still be charged as a misdemeanor, you could be charged with a felony DUI if your DUI case is aggravated by the injury or death of someone in an accident you figured in, or if you’ve already been convicted of DUI three or more times within the last ten years.
If you’re convicted of a felony DUI, you could be facing a minimum of 180 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, and a four-year license suspension. An 18-month alcohol education program is also often included among the penalties, and you will have to complete it once you are handed a felony DUI conviction.
What hurt most about a DUI felony conviction in California, however, are the long-term repercussions. A felony conviction on your record can haunt you on so many levels, and will likely make your life more difficult for years to come. Keeping or finding a job will be tough, and so will getting a scholarship or being admitted to a reputable school. A convicted felon will also have to pay higher car insurance rates, that is, if an insurance company even takes him or her on as a client.
Hire an experienced DUI lawyer
Tough as they are, aggravated DUI charges can be beaten by an experienced DUI defense lawyer. As long as you’re represented by a criminal defense attorney that specializes in DUI defense, you have a fair shot at winning your case. Secure the services of an experienced DUI attorney as soon as you can, and improve your chances of getting the best possible results.
This is a guest post by Victoria Brown. This post has been edited for syntax and grammar. The Law offices of Jay Leiderman is not responsible for the accuracy of the content herein or any opinions or ideas expressed herein. This post is for entertainment and literary value and is not intended as legal advice. This post does not establish an attorney-client relationship of any sort. If you have legal questions about ideas presented herein please contact a lawyer knowledgeable in this field of practice.