There is no such thing as a simple DUI. Facing charges for drunk driving means your future is in jeopardy. A DUI conviction can carry penalties that result in financial burdens, professional challenges and personal struggles.
However, as complicated as a normal DUI can make your life, you face even more trouble if there are aggravating factors attached to your DUI. An aggravating factor is anything that authorities feel adds more severity to the offense. If aggravating factors exist in your DUI case, you may face the potential for enhanced penalties or even the possibility that prosecutors will raise the level of your charges from a misdemeanor DUI.
Common aggravating factors
A conviction for a first-offense DUI in Arizona means mandatory jail, fines, license suspension and other penalties. You will likely have to install an ignition interlock and attend alcohol counseling. Add to that the enhanced penalties of an aggravating factor, and you may find your life turned upside-down for the indefinite future. Some examples of aggravating factors that can enhance your penalties or increase your charges include police claims such as these:
- You were driving excessively fast or in a reckless manner while under the influence of alcohol.
- Your breath or blood test measured your blood alcohol concentration at substantially higher than the .08 limit.
- Your DUI arrest occurred while you had an already suspended or revoked license.
- You had a minor under age 15 in your vehicle while driving impaired by alcohol.
- You were involved in an accident that resulted in the serious injury or death of your passenger, a pedestrian or someone in the other vehicle.
Repeat offenders also risk higher charges, perhaps even felony charges, and more severe penalties. Each state has a system of increasingly harsh penalties for subsequent DUI convictions, and safety advocates constantly fight to make those penalties stricter to discourage people from driving after drinking. In Arizona, you may face aggravated DUI penalties if your conviction comes within seven years of a previous DUI conviction.
Whether you face a first-offense DUI misdemeanor or enhanced penalties related to aggravating factors, you have rights worth defending. A drunk driving conviction on your record may prevent you from finding work or other opportunities in your future. The evidence against you may not be as reliable as it seems, and it may benefit you to seek the assistance of a skilled defense attorney.