To better understand this charge, it is essential to understand what generally constitutes an aggravating factor. Aggravation in the legal sense is a factor or factors related to a crime that increases enormity or the harmful consequences associated with it. These must be in addition to or beyond the basic matter of the crime itself. In layman’s terms, an aggravating factor is something that makes a crime worse than it ordinarily would be.
The definition of an aggravated DUI / DWI varies according to what factors are taken into account by individual states. These can include any, some or all of the following:
- An extremely high BAC level
- Minors present in the vehicle
- Multiple DUI / DWI convictions
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
- Excessive speed
An extreme Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is often reckoned as twice the legal limit of .08 percent or a BAC of .15 percent in many locations. A higher BAC is often associated with both greater impairment and tougher sentences handed down to drivers. In the states of New Hampshire and Utah, an aggravated DUI is indicated when a person drives with a BAC greater than .16 percent.
In terms of multiple offenses or convictions, some states will automatically count a second or third DUI / DWI charge as an aggravated DUI, including, for example, the state of Illinois, which does so upon reaching the third offense. Some states are less lenient, but few require more than a third conviction to consider recidivism as an aggravating factor.
Excessive speeding influences sentencing in a similar way. A person who is pulled over while driving far above the posted speed limit can expect a much higher sentence, if convicted, than one driving near or below the speed limit. Additionally, a driver who is accused does not have to cause an accident to be charged with an aggravated DUI / DWI.
If you have found yourself charged with aggravated DUI / DWI, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney in your area to represent you. Because these charges often result in higher rates of conviction and harsher sentences, you need a lawyer to help you get the charges reduced or to bargain on your behalf during the trial and sentencing phases of your case.