DUIs have varying degrees of severity. First-time offenders are often treated more leniently, if no one was injured or killed as a result of the alcohol-related driving offense, while repeat offenders face higher penalties.
Aggravated DUI may occur if there are certain mitigating factors present during the arrest.
What is an Aggravated DUI?
A standard DUI offense typically consists of a traffic stop or evaluation following a traffic accident or erratic driving incident. The threshold for intoxication in every state, except Utah, is a blood alcohol content level of .08 percent. In Utah, the limit is lower at .05 percent, but they are currently the only state with that particular restriction.
A typical DUI can be classified as an aggravated DUI if the following criteria are factors in the incident:
- Injury or death — this is one of the worst possible outcomes of driving under the influence. If an offender is an accident that causes injury to or kills someone else, this DUI may then be considered aggravated. Not only will they have to deal with the emotional consequences of causing harm to another person, the offender may also be given increased fines and a longer suspension period, along with other increased penalties depending on their state.
- Property damage — car accidents can cause a lot of damage to vehicles and surrounding area. If property is damaged during the course of an alcohol-related driving offense, the offense may be considered aggravated DUI.
- Minor child present — offenders who meet or exceed the legal limit for blood alcohol content are considered to have committed aggravated DUI if a child or teenager under 18 years of age is present in the vehicle.
- Repeat offender — penalties increase on a tiered system in every state for repeat offenders. However, the number of repeat offenses that bump a standard DUI to an aggravated DUI varies depending on the state.
- Very High Blood Alcohol Content — typically, if the blood alcohol limit is twice the legal limit it is considered an aggravated DUI. However some states do have a higher limit they consider “aggravated” than others, so it’s important to check.
- Erratic driving/excessive speed — it may be confusing, because of course poor driving is often a factor in a stop or DUI arrest. However, if a DUI offender is also traveling at excessive speeds (think 30 or more miles faster than posted speed limits) this may be considered an aggravated DUI.
- Illegal driving/driving without a valid license — if your driver’s license is already suspended, either due to a previous DUI or another offense, then you may be charged with aggravated DUI instead of standard DUI.
- Refusing to submit to chemical testing — failure to consent to testing when being charged with unlawful driving may result in an aggravated sentence
When it comes to aggravated DUI, the penalties are always stricter. In some states, aggravated DUI is considered a felony (whereas a standard DUI is often a misdemeanor) which can lead to more lasting effects. There will be increased fines, penalties, and potentially long-term effects on career opportunities and other factors that impact quality of life.
How Can I Prevent an Aggravated DUI?
- Stay sober — it is the single most effective way to avoid a DUI of any kind.
- Choose a designated driver — make sure a trusted friend has agreed to serve as a sober driver, if you don’t have access to rideshare or cabs in your area.
- Get an ignition interlock device — IIDs can prevent you from driving drunk at all. The devices prevent you from starting the car with alcohol in your system.
If you have questions about getting an ignition interlock device, our state specialists can help. Call (833) 623-0200 to speak to someone now.