Which of the Following Might Result in Harsher DUI Penalties?

Published On: September 3, 2022By

Driving under the influence is a severe charge. If you do not take specific steps to mitigate the damage, you risk severe penalties that can make your life uncomfortable for quite some time. This is even more true when you might face an aggravated DUI charge, which warrants harsher penalties.

Many different factors can contribute to an aggravated DUI charge. Knowing that you are facing aggravated charges can make it easier to develop a defense. Though, it takes a skilled lawyer to fight aggravated DUI charges successfully. Contact a DUI defense lawyer today to receive your consultation.

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Driving Under the Influence

You are never allowed to drive while drunk or drugged. While many states may have different laws that dictate the specifics of this rule, it is essential to note that driving while above the legal BAC limit is always against the law. BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration, so if the police test you and your BAC is too high, you can be in big trouble.

However, this does not mean you must be subject to massive penalties and jail time. Instead, you have the chance to avoid consequences by providing a reasonable defense. With the proper defense in place, you can have your sentence minimized or your case entirely dismissed.

Doing so takes skilled legal counsel, as the chance of winning decreases dramatically when you do not hire a lawyer. Many people who handle their own DUI defense and try to fight a DUI without a lawyer end up with avoidable, costly convictions and penalties.

Don’t make that mistake. Get in touch with a DUI defense lawyer today to increase your chances of beating these charges or mitigating the consequences you face.

What Happens After Getting a DUI Charge?

A person who gets a DUI charge is likely to feel guilt, shame, and frustration. Though, if you let these emotions get the best of you, you cannot effectively fight the charges. Instead of getting down, get help. Hire a lawyer to represent you in your driving under the influence case.

Before you get your lawyer, it may help to think about the things that usually happen during and after the police catch you in the act of drunk driving. Here is a usual chain of events that works as a good example.

The police arrest you.

Seeking red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror is always stressful – whether you drank or not. Police do not have to suspect you were under the influence to pull you over, as they can pull you over for any suspected traffic violation. Once an officer speaks with you, they might suspect you are under the influence and seek probable cause for a DUI arrest.

The officer asks you to get out of your car, and they administer a blood alcohol test via a Breathalyzer. You blow into it. Then they wait for it to produce a reading. To your surprise, the reading says your blood alcohol content is 0.085 percent. In many states, that is enough for the police to arrest you.

So the officer arrests you. At this point, you feel confused and shocked. They then process you at the police station and sit you in a jail cell. You will sit there for a while before you are released, and you might have bail set for aggravated DUI offenses.

The circumstances of your arrest are critical to your defense. Not every police officer has a reasonable suspicion of violations when pulling a driver over. Officers might see you pulling out of a popular entertainment district or a sports arena, and they might stop you on a whim to see if you were drinking. This is unlawful. They might also arrest you without sufficient evidence to constitute probable cause.

An unlawful traffic stop or arrest violates your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Your attorney can seek to dismiss all charges stemming from the violation of your rights. You always want a lawyer to review your arrest for a possible case dismissal.

You get a court summons.

After your arrest and eventual release, the police provide you with a court summons that states when you are required to attend a court hearing for your DUI case. Once you go to court, you work through the different criminal proceedings which force you to face your driving under the influence charges.

You have the right to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest at the initial hearing. What you plead will determine what your sentence is. Though, we suggest you plead not guilty to avoid getting undesirable outcomes. Pleading guilty without a plea agreement will leave you entirely at the whim of the criminal justice system—a position nobody wants to be in.

You need a DUI defense lawyer to get a plea agreement or plan a not guilty defense. With their assistance, you can develop a strategy that increases your chances of avoiding the maximum sentence. In the best-case scenario, a court will dismiss the charges and seal your case records. This rarely happens for people who don’t get a lawyer, so retain legal counsel as soon as possible if you want the best results.

A court sentences you.

Now that you have completed your trial, it is time for the court to render its sentence. Your sentence depends on how well you defend yourself during the court hearings.

The various elements of your case will also play a part in how the court sentences you. For example, having a child in the car while drunk driving can lead to an aggravated DUI charge. An aggravated DUI charge will result in worse sentences than a typical DUI charge. Though, you do have the option to have such sentences reduced if you can make a plausible argument for your innocence.

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What Are the Different DUI Penalties?

A DUI conviction can result in many penalties.

Primarily, the court will subject you to:

  • Jail time
  • License suspension
  • Fines
  • Mandatory rehabilitation

Your penalties depend significantly on how often the police have caught you driving drunk and whether you face an aggravated charge. Here are some penalties you can face for a typical DUI charge.

License suspension

This is the most common DUI penalty. Whether it is your first conviction of a DUI or your third, the court will likely suspend your license. Though, there is a chance it will just be restricted instead.

Here are some examples of how long a court will suspend your license if it has convicted you of DUI:

  • First DUI – Six months
  • Second DUI – Two years
  • Third DUI – Three years

These are the maximum suspension lengths that California laws mandate. The best way to keep your license is to find a lawyer who can help you fight the charges. Though, you can’t just choose anyone. Make sure you find a lawyer who understands how to have a suspension reduced to a restricted driver’s license or ignition interlock device.

Restricted Driver’s Licenses

Sometimes, DUI convicts can have their license restricted rather than entirely suspended. A restricted license allows drunk driving offenders to continue legally driving to essential places, like school and work. This enables DUI convicts to earn an income or pursue an education.

To get a restricted license, you must convince the court you deserve one.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Another option you have after a DUI conviction is having an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your vehicle. These devices test whether you have alcohol in your system before you start your car. If there is alcohol present, the vehicle will not start. The purpose of this device is to prevent you from driving drunk.

The court can order you to have one of these devices installed in your vehicle while you have a restricted driver’s license or after your sentence ends. Sometimes, installing such a device will get your license back faster. Though, it takes skilled litigation to win such a sentence.

Time in Jail

Jail is always a potential outcome in DUI cases. While first-time offenders can often avoid anything more than just a few days in jail, there are times when people serve up to ten years for a non-aggravated fourth offense DUI. To find out what amount of jail time you risk serving, speak to a DUI defense attorney to have your case thoroughly evaluated. ​

Fines

More often than not, a fine comes with DUI convictions. Penalties may range from $300 to $2,000. How much a court will fine you depends on how many convictions of driving under the influence you have.

There Are Worse Penalties for Aggravated DUI Charges

Sometimes, prosecutors can pursue aggravated DUI charges, which warrant worse penalties. Generally, the worst-case scenario involves a DUI offender killing or severely injuring someone they hit while drunk driving. However, a prosecutor might elevate your charges to aggravated ones for other reasons. Here are some aggravated DUI issues and the enhanced sentences that may come with a conviction.

High BAC

People caught with much higher BACs may receive mandatory minimum sentences between 10 and 50 days. An unreasonably high BAC may significantly diminish your chances of a favorable plea deal.

Accidents that cause death and injury

The penalties can increase if the police accuse you of hurting people or causing immense property damage due to driving drunk.

For example, some states sentence people to up to 20 years if they kill someone while driving drunk. A driver who kills someone while drunk may even face manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges. Therefore, if you injured someone in your drunk driving incident, it is always necessary to have a lawyer defend you from the prosecution.

Driving drunk with a child in the car

When you have a minor in the car during a DUI arrest, the minimum jail sentence is more than if you drove alone or with adult passengers. In some states, there is a 30-day minimum jail sentence for first-time offenders, while second-time offenders have a minimum 180-day jail sentence.

You Can Fight Aggravated DUI Charges

Just because you have an aggravated DUI charge, you may still fight it. Just like a typical DUI charge, a skilled lawyer can help you avoid facing extreme consequences. In some instances, a court may even dismiss your case.

To learn how to fight back against the prosecution, even in horrible cases, contact a Chudnovsky Law attorney today.

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