Each state has its own driving under the influence laws and each state’s laws determine what the difference is between driving under the influence (DUI) and aggravated driving under the influence. Aggravated driving under the influence is often talked about as if it were a separate offense, but in reality, is it simply a type of DUI under most state laws.

When a person is convicted of driving under the influence, the court will consider both mitigating and aggravating factors when deciding how the offender will be punished. An aggravated DUI is, therefore, a drunk driving offense involving one or more aggravating factors considered at sentencing.

Aggravating Factors Under Drunk Driving Laws

A drunk driving conviction can result in enhanced penalties if any of the following aggravating factors (also referred to as “special factors”) were involved in the relevant drunk driving incident:

•     Excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration: If the offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 percent or more (i.e. their blood alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit) then enhanced penalties may be added by the court.

•     Refusal to Take a Chemical Test: If the state is an implied consent state, which means that drivers within the state are required to submit to a breathalyzer test if stopped by a police officer and asked to take such a test. A driver who fails to do so may face enhanced penalties if convicted of drunk driving.

•     Driving Drunk with a Child in the Car: If a child under 14 years old was riding in the vehicle at the time of the drunk driving offense the driver may face enhanced penalties.

•     DUI Resulting in Injury or Death to Multiple Victims: If a drunk driver injures or kills more than one person in a single drunk driving incident then the drunk driver will almost certainly face enhanced penalties if convicted.

•     Excessive Speed: If a convicted drunk driver was operating their vehicle at an excessive speed while under the influence, they will likely face enhanced penalties at sentencing. In this circumstance “excessive speed” is defined as driving at a rate of more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on a street or 30 miles per hour over the speed limit on the highway.

•     Prior DUIs: If a convicted drunk driver has one or more prior DUIs on their record then they will receive enhanced penalties at sentencing.

Need Legal Advice?

If you have been charged with a crime related to driving under the influence, contact an experienced lawyer, for help in defending against these charges.