Common Aggravating Factors for a DUI Charge

Most DUIs are misdemeanors, but certain circumstances can aggravate the offenses. The presence of any aggravating factors during your DUI arrest could mean harsher charges and penalties if convicted. Let’s take a look at a few common factors and how an Asheville DUI defense lawyer can help you face these DUI charges.

High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

A high blood alcohol content—or BAC—is one of the most common aggravating factors for a DUI charge. North Carolina considers a BAC of 0.08% or higher to be legally intoxicated for drivers over 21.

However, some states have “zero tolerance” laws for underage drivers that make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

If your BAC was significantly higher than the legal limit, the judge and prosecutor may see that as a sign that you had consumed a large amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel. They may view that as reckless behavior that puts others in danger.

Excessive Speeding

Speeding is dangerous and illegal, but when combined with impaired driving, it becomes even more reckless. Excessive speeding, defined as driving 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, is an aggravating factor that will significantly increase the penalties for a DUI charge.

The faster you’re going, the harder it is to control the vehicle. When you’re intoxicated, your reaction times are slowed, and it’s more difficult to judge distances and navigate properly.

Speeding massively amplifies the risks in this situation. At higher speeds, even a momentary lack of control or lapse in judgment can lead to a serious accident.

Presence of a Minor in the Vehicle

Driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle is an aggravating factor that can significantly increase penalties. As a responsible driver, you should never drive after drinking, but if you have a child in the car, the offense is even more serious.

some factors make your DUI charge more serious

DUI with a minor penalties In North Carolina may include:

  • Higher fines. If you were driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 18 in the vehicle, you may face significantly higher fines than for a standard DUI charge. North Carolina fines for DUI with a minor can reach up to $10,000.
  • Mandatory jail time. For a first-offense DUI with a minor, you’ll likely face at least 48 consecutive hours in jail and possibly up to 1 year. For subsequent offenses, longer jail sentences are common.
  • License suspension. In addition to jail time, your driver’s license will almost certainly be suspended. For a first offense, suspensions typically last at least 6 months. For second or third offenses, suspensions of 2 to 3 years are common.

These harsher penalties aim to deter drunk driving overall, especially when it puts children at risk.

Causing an Accident or Injury

If you crash into another vehicle, building, or piece of property during DUI, you’ll likely face charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as charges for reckless driving or reckless endangerment. The owner of the other property can also sue you in civil court to recover costs for repairs or replacement.

These additional charges and lawsuits can add significantly to the financial burden of a DUI. Injuring or killing another person while driving drunk can lead to felony charges, years of jail time, and a lifetime of regret.

Refusing a Chemical Test

Refusing to submit to a chemical test like a breathalyzer or blood test is never a good idea and will likely make your DUI charges much worse. When an officer pulls you over for suspected drunk driving and asks you to take a chemical test, refusing is not going to make the situation go away.

In fact, it gives the officer and prosecutor more reason to believe you were driving impaired. Most states consider refusing a chemical test an aggravating factor that allows for enhanced penalties, like a longer license suspension or jail time.

Discuss Drunk Driving Aggravating Factors with an Asheville DUI Attorney

If you’ve been pulled over and charged with drunk driving with aggravating factors, don’t panic. However, you must take action immediately to mitigate the consequences.

Call the Asheville DUI Guy at 828-759-5556 for a free consultation with an experienced DUI attorney.

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