Driving under the influence carries charges that have significant consequences. However, some events involving DUI may lead to more severe consequences than a singular charge called "aggravated DUI." An aggravating circumstance is any attendant factor that increases the criminality of the act.
What can cause a DUI charge to go from "normal" to "aggravated?" By exploring the circumstances, you can best understand the elements necessary to consider in a criminal defense case.
High blood alcohol content
California's legal limit for consumption follows the federal standard of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). An aggravated charge could occur if the suspect's BAC is more than .20. For a 180 pound male, this intoxication level would be equivalent to consuming 10 drinks in approximately five hours. A driver would be disoriented and lack physical coordination. Such a high level of BAC is cause for aggravation in California.
If a person is both driving under the influence and speeding, he or she may be charged with two separate crimes. However, speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour over the speed limit could result in an aggravated DUI charge. For example, the maximum penalty for a person driving 100 mph in a 70 mph speed in California is a $500 fine.
In addition to a steep fine, a conviction for excessive speeding would carry two points against your driving record, the same for a DUI. Because driving under the influence and excessive speeding are both criminal acts when done alone, a coincidence of actions could result in aggravation of charges.
A first-time DUI charge in California is a gross misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are "lesser" offenses and carry a maximum penalty of less than a year in prison. Multiple convictions can compound the penalties to increased fines, prison time or criminality of the offense. An aggravated DUI could carry felony level charges that carry penalties of more than a year in prison.
Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Because of the severity and complexity of aggravated DUI charges, it is important to have an experienced and determined law firm on your side to examine all possible defenses, so you gain the best possible outcome.