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What Is Aggravated DUI in California?

 Posted on October 16, 2023 in DUI

Untitled---2023-10-16T114044.352.jpgDriving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in California, and even a first-time DUI can have serious consequences. However, when certain aggravating factors are present, a DUI charge can carry harsher penalties. For those who have been arrested for drunk driving, understanding when felony DUI charges may apply is crucial. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on how to address these issues and defend against a felony conviction.

Understanding DUI Laws in California

In California, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher for most drivers over the age of 21. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is lower at 0.04 percent, while for minors under 21 years old, any measurable amount of alcohol can lead to a DUI charge.

DUI offenses are typically charged as misdemeanors unless certain aggravating factors are present. These factors can elevate the offense to a felony DUI, and more severe penalties will apply if a person is convicted.

Aggravating Factors for DUI Charges

Felony charges may apply when one or more aggravating factors are present when a person is arrested for DUI. Aggravating factors may include:

  • Prior convictions: More serious charges will apply if a person is arrested for DUI for a second or subsequent time within 10 years. A fourth DUI will usually be charged as a felony.

  • Bodily injury: If intoxicated driving caused serious injuries to another person, felony DUI charges may apply. If someone was killed, a person may be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

  • Excessive speed: Driving more than 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit while under the influence can lead to a felony DUI charge.

  • Child endangerment: Operating a vehicle under the influence with a child passenger can result in additional charges and increased penalties.

  • Suspended license: If a person is arrested for DUI after their driver's license had been suspended or revoked, they may face an aggravated DUI charge.

  • High BAC: Having a particularly high blood alcohol concentration level, typically above 0.20 percent, is likely to result in a more serious DUI charge.

These are just some examples of aggravating factors that may affect DUI cases. Other circumstances may also warrant felony charges. The specific penalties for an aggravated DUI will depend on the nature of the offense, a person’s criminal record, and the availability of diversion programs.

Potential Consequences of Aggravated DUI

If convicted of aggravated DUI in California, a person will face more severe penalties than they would if they had faced misdemeanor DUI charges. These consequences may include:

  • Increased fines: Aggravated DUI charges often come with higher fines than those associated with regular DUI offenses. In many cases, fines will total $10,000 or more.

  • Jail time: A felony conviction may carry a prison sentence of one year or more, and longer periods of jail time may be imposed for more serious DUI offenses.

  • Loss of driving privileges: A conviction for aggravated DUI can result in the loss of a person’s driver’s license for an extended period of time. A person’s license will usually be revoked, and they may be unable to regain their driving privileges for several years. 

  • Mandatory alcohol education programs: In addition to attending a court-approved alcohol education program required for all DUI offenders, people who are convicted of aggravated DUI may be required to complete additional classes, counseling sessions, or treatment for alcohol or drug addiction.

Contact a Napa Aggravated DUI Attorney

If you are facing an aggravated DUI charge in California, it is essential to seek legal representation as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction can be severe, and they can have long-lasting effects on your personal and professional life. At Burglin Law Offices, P.C., our Richmond County felony DUI lawyer understands the complexities of aggravated DUI cases. Our firm is dedicated to providing effective defense strategies for clients who are facing DUI charges. To schedule a free consultation, please contact us at 415-729-7300. We are here to help you navigate through this challenging time and provide the guidance and legal help you need.

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