Our readers often ask, “What is an aggravated DUI?”, “How to beat an aggravated DUI?”, “How to reduce an aggravated DUI?”, “Is aggravated DUI a felony or a misdemeanor?”, “What is the punishment for an aggravated DUI”, “Do I have to go to jail for an aggravated DUI? and so on…..
We brought together a team of expert DUI lawyers from different states and tried to answer all possible questions on an aggravated DUI in this comprehensive article.
First thing first, All states consider the DUI as ‘Misdemeanor’. However, an aggravated DUI is a ‘Felony’ and attracts severe consequences.
Since May 2007, every state has made a law that makes driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs illegal. All states have fixed a maximum permissible Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels of 0.8.
Anyone found driving above the BAC of 0.8 faces a DUI charge. People with lower BAC levels i.e. 0.6 or 0.7 can also face a DUI, if the driver seems intoxicated, fails field sobriety tests, or commits a traffic offense.
An aggravated DUI is a DUI involving some “aggravating factors”.
It usually becomes an aggravated DUI, If at the time of arrest, you had following factors:
- Driving with no driving license, or with a revoked or suspended driving license.
- You had a child under 15 years in your vehicle. It’s one of the major factors for it to become an aggravated DUI.
- You were pulled-over for over-speeding and you were found to be intoxicated.
- Blood alcohol count (BAC) was over .14.
- You had a prior DUI/DWI/OUI/OWI on your record. Usually the 3rd DUI becomes an aggravated DUI.
- You were below the legal drinking age of 21 years at the time of the arrest. You will be facing two charges. One for drinking below the prescribed age, and second for an aggravated DUI.
- Refusal for any alcohol tests i.e. Sobriety Tests, Blood Test, Breath Analyzer test or any other chemical tests.
- You injured some property, or person (including you and your passengers).
- If there’s a death involved in DUI/DWI, it definitely becomes an aggravated DUI.
Let’s find out how your suffer more in an Aggravated DUI.
1. Arrest and Bail in an Aggravated DUI
When cops pull you over on the suspicion of drunk-driving. They first ask you to do some field sobriety tests i.e. pointing at you nose with your finger, one legged stand, straight walk and turn, eye-jerking tests etc.
They may also perform the breath-analyzer tests on you. All states use Intoxilyzer 5000 machine for the breath-analyzer test. All states permit a Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of under 0.8. So, a BAC of 0.8 or more will definitely get you in a trouble.
If the cops have determined that you were indeed under the influence, you will be facing a DUI charge. If you also had some other aggravating factors, say you had a child along with you in the car, you will face an aggravated DUI.
You are taken to the station. They strip you off everything except your clothes and you are put into a holding cell.
At the station, you may have to go-through Blood-Alcohol test as well.
Your arresting officer makes a charge sheet against you. He forwards your charges to the District Attorney (DA) and discusses your case with him over the phone. DA then fixes a bail amount for you.
You are sure to qualify for a bail in the case of a misdemeanor DUI. However, in the case of an aggravated DUI, it depends on the severity of the aggravating factors, you may or may not get a bail.
In the case of a misdemeanor DUI, the bail amount is from $400 to 1200. However, in the aggravated DUIs the bail amount can go up to $10000.
2. Driving License Suspension in an Aggravated DUI
In 2019, over 30000 people lost their lives in drunk-driving related cases. That is the reason, all states consider drunk driving a very serious offense.
Even if it’s a first offense DUI, or a misdemeanor DUI you are set to lose your driving license.
We may not realize the importance of a ‘Driving Privilege’, until we lose it. It affects your day-to-day life in a very big way.
In a misdemeanor DUI, people generally lose their driving license for a period of 1 month to 6 months. People can sometimes qualify for hardship licenses, which they can use only for the purposes that court has specified i.e. dropping kids to school, going to work etc.
Moreover, About 90% of misdemeanor DUIs don’t go for the court trials. Many of them are settled mutually in ‘Plea-Bargaining’ between the prosecution (Or District Attorney) and your DUI attorney. A lot of times, The DUI is reduced/converted in lesser charges i.e. reckless driving.
So, in misdemeanor DUIs, You may not lose your driving privileges for too long. However, in the case of an aggravated DUI, People lose their driving privileges for up to 10 years, and sometimes even for the rest of their lives.
3. Fines and Penalties in an Aggravated DUI
All states consider DUIs a big threat for the society. That is the reason, courts impose very heavy penalties and fines on DUI offenders.
All states have different rules and fine amounts for DUI offenders. However, you are sure to get a big dent on your pocket whichever state you are in.
In the case of a misdemeanor DUI, the court fine ranges from $400 to $1000. Courts, at times, also allow delayed payments and part payments.
The court fines are extremely high for aggravated DUIs. There’s no higher limit, some people facing the aggravated DUIs have had to pay a court fine as high as $10000. They may also have to pay a separate fine/penalty amount for the other aggravating charge i.e. if any property was damaged, someone was injured etc.
4. Probation and Jail Term in an Aggravated DUI
Most people charged with a DUI have to go through a probation, which is an alternate to the jail term and includes some pre-conditions and restrictions that you need to abide by.
The common probation conditions include ‘Periodic reporting and payment of monthly fines to a probation officer.’, ‘attending alcohol treatment classes’, ‘not getting any traffic tickets’, ‘Not driving with a measurable blood alcohol count (BAC)’.
If anyone fails in any of the pre-defined probation conditions, court can issue an arrest warrant against them and convert their probation to an actual jail time.
Probation is not common in misdemeanor DUIs, and almost certain in an aggravated DUI.
In growing number of DUI cases, Jail term is a mandatory part of court sentence. However, in misdemeanor DUIs the jail term is maximum of 1 or 2 days that can be done even on weekends.
In case of an aggravated DUI, the jail term is very high. The jail term, in aggravated DUIs, largely depends on the aggravating factor and its severity.
5. Alcohol Treatments/DUI Schools in an Aggravated DUI
Almost in all DUI sentences, you have to attend some sort of alcohol and drug education/treatment. DUI schools, for aggravated DUI convicts, can be a very expensive and time consuming punishment.
Alcohol and drug treatment centers, also called as DUI classes or DUI schools, are spread across the country and they offer various alcohol treatment programs.
Here’s a list of most common alcohol treatment programs:
- ADETS education program: Hours: Minimum 16. Days: Minimum: 5
- Short term outpatient alcohol and drugs treatment: Hours: 20-39. Days: Minimum 30
- Longer term outpatient alcohol and drugs treatment: Hours: 40-89. Days: Minimum 60
- Intensive outpatient alcohol and drugs treatment: Hours: Minimum 90. Days: Minimum 90
- Inpatient/Residential alcohol and drugs treatment: Minimum 90 days.
People facing a misdemeanor DUI usually qualify for ADETS behavior training. This lasts for 16 hours, and minimum 5 days.
In case of an aggravated DUI, you may have to attend stricter treatments, which cost you more time and more money.
We advise you to go through our FAQs on DUI Schools. This is a comprehensive guide of all that you need to know about DUI classes, DUI Schools and Alcohol and Drug Treatments.
6. Higher Auto Insurance
If there’s a DUI on your record, it’s almost certain that you have to pay much more (even up to double) premium to your auto insurance company.
The increase in premiums slightly varies from company to company. All companies increase the premiums for at least 3 years. In the case of an aggravated DUI, the insurance companies don’t set the premiums to normal rates until the DUI citation remains on your driving history.
Insurance companies consider you a high risk customer, so they increase the premiums to cover the increased risk. An aggravated DUI is even higher risk, hence attract even higher premiums.
7. Loss of Time and Money
DUIs are particularly frustrating because of the amount of money and time it consumes.
Even a first offense DUI or a misdemeanor DUI may cost you up to $8000 or more.
- At the time of arrest, you have to pay a bail amount which ranges from $400 to $1000.
- Lawyer’s fee ranges from $1500 to $5000 and even higher if the case goes for trials.
- Court penalties and fines may be as high as $1000.
- If there’s a probation. You may have to pay monthly payments to your probation officer.
- DUI Schools may cost up to $800.
- If court or the probation officer orders you to install an ‘Ignition Interlock device’. It costs between $70 to 150.
- You have to pay higher premiums to your insurance companies.
- In addition to this, you lose your livelihood (Job or business) for a long time.
Aggravated DUIs, in particular cost you much higher. The cost of an aggravated DUI depends on the severity of the aggravating factor i.e. Injury or property damage etc.
On an average, an aggravated DUI costs about $8000 to $15000. You lose your livelihood at least for 6 months’ time.
Drunk driving puts society at risk. Some innocent people may get injured, lose life or suffer heavy losses, and the impact can last for their life time. That’s why all states consider DUIs as very serious offence, and attach heavy consequences even for the first time offenders.
A normal DUI without any other aggravating factor is considered as an act of ‘Misdemeanor’. Misdemeanor crimes include simple assault, battery, theft, shoplifting, trespassing, illegal possession of arms, disorderly conduct, and other low-level offenses.
A Misdemeanor DUI usually doesn’t reach the court trials. A good DUI lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution/district attorney (DA) and get the DUI converted to a lesser charge i.e. Reckless Driving. What this means is that, you don’t even get a DUI on your driving record.
Jail time is rare and short (hardly one or two days) in a misdemeanor DUI. All costs i.e. Court fees, Lawyer’s fee, DUI School’s fee etc. are comparatively much lower.
An aggravated DUI, however, is considered a felony. If you are convicted with an aggravating DUI, You become a ‘Felon’ for the rest of your life.
In an aggravated DUI, you stand in line of serious criminals. Felonies are usually crimes that are viewed severely by society and include crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, or arson.
If you are facing an aggravated DUI, you definitely need to go through our DWI/DUI FAQs.
Our DUI team has compiled a list of DUI laws of all states, you should check DUI laws of your state here.
We also recommend you to go through DUI information available on California government’s DUI website.
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