When a driver is charged with an aggravated DUI, or Felony DUI, he is looking at a much more serious charge than a typical DUI, and in most cases the charges carry much more severe penalties than a misdemeanor charge of the same nature. The term “aggravated” is a charge modifier resulting from the different circumstances involved in the many scenarios that can occur when dealing with DUI situations.
Typical Causes for DUI Modification
There are many factors that determine whether or not a DUI charge can be deemed aggravated or modified to include felony penalties, and most of the factors depend directly on the nature and location of the incident. Some states have much stricter penalties when it comes to DUI violations because of the frequency of arrests of that nature, while other states aren’t as rigid in enforcement. Some of the pinpoint factors that can elevate a DUI to felony status are:
- A drastically elevated blood alcohol level, or BAC. The legal limit for blood alcohol levels across the country is 0.08% or higher. If a driver tests at a level anywhere around 0.15 or greater, the charge may be considered “aggravated”, and carry a much stiffer consequence.
- Any time children are involved, either underage drinkers or minor children riding with an intoxicated adult, any driving done under the influence of intoxicants will be charged on an escalated scale. In cases when a child or minor ends up being seriously injured or in an accident resulting in death, this will in almost all cases escalate a DUI charge. This charge will also be elevated in cases where the driver caused any destruction of property, whether an injury occurred as a result or not.
- If the driver that is being charged with a DUI does not possess a valid driver’s license, he could be looking at more intense charges due to the fact that he didn't possess the privilege to drive at all, much less under the influence.
- Multiple DUI convictions will, in almost all cases, cause a penalty much more severe than a first offense of DUI, and if the offense is the third offense (or fourth, fifth, etc.), the defendant could be facing substantial prison time.
In cases like these your best option to consider is to hire either a personal criminal defense attorney, or take advantage of your state’s Public Defender program if one exists. DUI is a serious charge that can alter your life if convicted, and should always be taken extremely seriously.