In a general sense, a first-time offender, that is, if you have been charged with your first DUI, and have not had prior incidents; you will not face jail time. The only exception to this general rule of thumb is when your DUI includes what is known as “aggravating circumstances.” If you are being charged with an aggravated DUI, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately. It is imperative that you have representation that will take a two-pronged approach to your defense: (1) attack the underlying DUI offense (if there is no DUI, there cannot be an aggravated DUI if there was no DUI); and (2) attack the evidence the Prosecutor has in support of their claim of aggravating circumstances (illegally obtained for example). It should be noted that even if the Prosecutor proves aggravating circumstances, this does not automatically mean you will face jail time; it only means you will face an enhanced punishment. The degree of the enhancement will be based on the nature of the aggravating factors. The Court generally imposes more punishment for certain aggravating factors, which they consider particularly important. Your skilled attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm has been trained by the very best, Vincent Ross, and has the required skill set to effectively advocate for a lesser punishment if the Prosecutor manages to prove the aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.
The list of aggravating circumstances is as long as your imagination can make it. However, there are certain scenarios that occur frequently. Those scenarios include the following:
- While driving under the influence, you were in accident with another vehicle; this is considered even if the driver of the other vehicle was under the influence as well.
- While driving under the influence, you were in accident where another individual was hurt; this includes passengers in your vehicle.
- At the time you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) was 0.20%, or higher. In these cases, your attorney will likely challenge the accuracy of the test in an effort to reduce the BAC the Prosecutor is allowed to accuse you of; this can have the practical effect of taking your BAC out of the “aggravating” level.
- At the time you were driving under the influence, there were passengers in your vehicle who were 14 years old or younger. It is not uncommon for a DUI with this aggravating factor to be charged as both aggravated DUI and Child Endangerment. If you are accused of aggravated DUI based on having a passenger who was 14 years old or younger, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately. It is essential that your attorney begin building a defense for both of your cases. The reason for this is even if your attorney can defeat the Prosecutor’s case of aggravated DUI against you, which would leave you with a standard DUI charge, the Prosecutor may still have a case against you for child endangerment. This is true even if the entire DUI charge against you is thrown out; it becomes much less likely, but it is still a possibility.
- At the time you were stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, you refused to submit to a blood, or breath, test.
- At the time you were arrested for driving under the influence, you were on probation.
- At the time you were stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, you did not have your California driver’s license; alternatively, if you were driving with a license that has been cancelled, revoked, or suspended.
- At the time you were arrested for driving under the influence, you had already been convicted of a prior DUI in the recent past.
- If at the time you were stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, you were driving between 25-30 MPH above the legal speed limit, or you were driving in a “reckless” manner; this generally means 3 or more traffic offense in a short period of time
- At the time you were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, you were not legally allowed to drink; under 21 years of age or on probation with those conditions attached.
- If while driving under the influence, you were involved in an accident; and failed to remain at the scene. In this case you will be charged with aggravated DUI, DUI hit-and-run, and potentially additional charges. If this is what you are accused of, contact an attorney immediately, this particular accusation can result in severe penalties.
As mentioned above, some factors are treated more harshly than others. For example, you will receive stiffer penalties if your DUI resulted in physical damage to property, or injury to a person. A conviction for a DUI, or a DUI with aggravating circumstances, the results could have a profound impact on your life, and your job. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, with aggravating circumstances, contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm; our skilled attorney’s will work with you to build the strongest case possible against the accusations made against you.
Aggravated DUI convictions may carry additional punishments
Generally speaking, if you this is your first or second DUI, resolutions are likely to happen during the plea bargain stage; see our article on this website about the 10 steps of the DUI Process for more information. The existence of “aggravating” factors will likely prompt the Prosecutor to pursue enhanced punishment for you. These enhanced punishments can include public service work, community service, jail time, mandatory substance abuse meetings, treatment programs, or enhanced fines. The presence of aggravating factors will increase the impact a DUI conviction can have on your life.
What happens if I am involved in an accident while driving under the influence?
If the facts surrounding your DUI include that you were in an accident while driving under the influence, the case the Prosecution may approach the case differently depending on the jurisdiction you are being charged in. At any rate, being charged with driving under the influence with aggravating circumstances has severe consequences. Having an attorney with an intimate understanding of the particular jurisdiction you are in can have many tangible benefits.
DUI Causing Bodily Injury
The courts generally treat DUIs where another individual was injured as the most serious aggravating factor possible. The Prosecutor can bring this charge as either a misdemeanor, or as a felony, depending on the severity of the harm caused. If you are involved in a DUI where another person was injured, you may be sentenced to a minimum of 5 days of incarceration, as well a yearlong suspension of your driver’s license. In the event that the harm to the other person, known as “serious bodily injury”, you will face much more severe consequences. If the victim suffered serious bodily injury, you will likely be charged with a felony. If you are convicted of a felony DUI with serious bodily injury as an aggravating circumstance you could spend up to 16 months in jail. Your attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will assist you through all phases of the criminal proceedings against you.
What happens if your BAC is 0.20% at the time of your arrest?
If at the time you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, the results of a blood test yield a value of 0.20%, you may be compelled to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, or other alcohol related programs, for a minimum of 9 months. Additionally, the Court may require that you outfit your vehicle with a breathalyzer on your ignition switch. You may also face time in jail.
What happens if I refuse to submit to a breath or blood test when I have been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence?
In the event you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence and you refuse to submit to a blood, or breath, test you may face a minimum of 48 hours of incarceration, and a minimum of 9 months in alcohol treatment programs. Additionally, your license may be suspended for at least one year.
What will happen if I was on probation when I received my DUI?
Being charged with a DUI while you are on probation may result in a hearing for a violation of the terms of probation. The consequences of an unfavorable outcome could be incarceration for violating the terms of probation. Generally, when you enter into a plea bargain for a prior DUI, there is a condition that you not drive with any alcohol in your system. Further you may face an additional year of having your license suspended. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, while appear on your behalf at these hearings, and fight to renew the original terms of your probation, instead of additional punishments.
What happens if my license was expired or suspended at the time I was arrested for a DUI?
Sometimes, people who have been arrested for a DUI were driving with an invalid driver’s license. If this occurs, you may be faced with enhanced penalties. Depending on the Prosecutor, they may seek a mandatory 2 day period of imprisonment. The attorneys at the Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will fight to remove the aggravating circumstances from the record, and reduce the charges against you. Our years of experience dealing with DUIs in California will allow us to give you the best chance of avoiding incarceration.
What happens if my license was restricted because of a prior DUI at the time I am arrested for a DUI?
California Vehicle Code §14601.2 makes it any enhanced version of the aggravating factor of driving on an invalid license, if your license is invalid as a result of a prior DUI. If this is the case, the consequences become more significant. You may be sentenced to at least ten (10) days of incarceration, the fines will become significantly higher, and you may be forced to equip your vehicle with an ignition interlock device.
What happens if I was driving over 25 miles per hour above the speed limit, or driving in a reckless manner?
Another aggravating factor that occurs frequently, is that at the time of the DUI the accused was: (1) driving 30 MPH or more over the legal speed limit on a highway, (2) driving 20 MPH over the speed limit on a residential street; AND they were driving in a reckless manner. If these facts are suspected, the Prosecutor will press charges under California Vehicle Code §23582. Since this charge involves driving under the influence and placing people/property in danger, the Court may impose a penalty of 60 days incarceration.
Hit and Run while driving under the influence
Perhaps the most severely punished aggravating factor in Los Angeles County, is when someone driving under the influence causes property damage, or harms a person, and flees the scene. If the Prosecution can prove their case against you, your record with the DMV will automatically trigger 2 points against your license. Additionally, a conviction for the DUI itself will add another 2 points to your license; this makes a total of 4 points against your driver’s license. With 4 points on your license, you may be labeled a “negligent operator” and you will lose your license for 6 months. If you have been accused of a DUI hit and run, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately, it is essential to start building your defense early on in the process.