Aggravating factors, as it relates to a DUI, all center around safety. While driving under the influence, if you are going 100 miles an hour, you can expect to get jail time.
If your blood alcohol level is double the legal limit, you can expect to get jail time. If you become involved in an accident, you can expect to be treated more harshly.
Typical Sentence For First and Second Time DUI Conviction
In Los Angeles County, for a first-time DUI, you are typically looking at being put on probation for three years. There is also going to be a fine of $390-$1,000, plus the penalty assessment.
If you get the minimum $390 fine, you are going to end up having to pay over $2,000, once they add the 200% penalty assessment.
You are also going to have to complete an alcohol abuse program. The first offender program is three months long.
There can other fees associated with the case and you can be given jail time if you are considered enough of the danger to the public.
If you are being charged with a second offense, there is a mandatory minimum of 96 hours in jail.
On a third offense, there is a mandatory minimum of 180 days in jail. On a fourth offense, you will be charged with a felony and you are going to be looking at state prison time.
DUI Causing Injury
Probably some of the biggest things that cause problems in DUI cases are when people get hurt and the worse the injury, the worse the problem is.
If somebody gets seriously injured the person who is charged with the DUI can also be charged with a felony DUI.
They can also add what's called a great bodily injury allegation which makes the case a strike. It makes it an automatic felony. You can't ever get it off of your record and you're looking at prison time if you have a GBI allegation. It's a three-year enhancement.
So, when somebody's injured that's when you have a real big problem. One defense to that is, you didn't cause the injury.
Sometimes the people cause the injury themselves. Other times, a third party causes the injury.
Other times it's just simply nobody's fault. So, that sometimes can be a defense, and obviously, you want to use that if you're hit with a GBI allegation because it really causes a big problem for you.
Type of Dangerous Driving
Another issue they look at and what aggravates DUI cases is how fast you're going, because speed obviously kills and if you're going very fast it makes you a lot more dangerous. Danger is one of the big things in DUIs that is trying to be avoided.
So, if you're going fast, swerving out of control, evading the police — anything that has a high degree of dangerousness — is going to be something that the courts and prosecutors look at when they consider aggravating or enhancing a DUI charge.
If you kill somebody while drinking under the influence of alcohol, that's probably the biggest aggravation.
Right now in Los Angeles County, the prosecutors — the District Attorneys office — has a policy that if somebody's drinking and driving and they drive and kill somebody, they're going to charge that person with second-degree murder.
The person will be looking at spending fifteen to life in prison under those circumstances.
Sometimes you can get those cases mitigated down to a vehicular manslaughter or some other charge, or even maybe defend it depending on the circumstances. But, you start to get a feel how aggravating factors can come up in DUI cases.
The problem with it is, people say, I want to drink. I want to have a good time.
Your biggest issue is that you put the rest of the people on the road at risk when you drink and drive, and if you hurt somebody or kill somebody, that's when the authorities are going to have to step in and say, wait a minute.
Not only are we going to show everybody else what we do when people kill other people and are selfish and drink and drive, we're also going to punish you for what you did. That's one of the biggest things they're looking to do — is to punish the individual who is drinking alcohol and driving.
What you need to do is get an attorney who has handled these type of cases before, where something is being aggravated or enhanced, and knows what the defenses are to these enhancements. Knows how to mitigate them down.
Sometimes there is no defense to what you did and you need to mitigate it with character letters and the other side of the story that sometimes the police don't seek when they do their investigation.
So, if you have an aggravated or enhanced DUI case, pick up the phone. Make the call. I've been doing this for twenty-five years with a lot of success.
How Can You Help Me With My DUI Case?
We prefer to get the case dismissed right from the beginning. If we cannot get the case dismissed, then we are looking to get you a reduced charge. My law firm has been doing this for 25 years. We are known all over Los Angeles County.
We know the judges and the prosecutors. We know how to check the calibration records of the machine that was used to test you and which things can affect breath testing.