If you didn't know it already, you may be discovering how quickly and completely a drunk driving arrest can affect your life. You may have already lost time from work, faced the expense of paying your bail and relinquished your driver's license, and you haven't even had your day in court. Even if it is your first offense, you may be concerned about how a conviction could change your future, your job and your relationships.
While all these things and more may be at risk with a simple DUI conviction, imagine how seriously any aggravating factors may impact your life. Aggravating factors are those circumstances at the time of your arrest that increase the severity of a DUI. With increased charges often come harsher penalties.
Common aggravating factors
A normal DUI conviction means you face the possibility of fines and other expenses, license suspension, community service and perhaps jail. You may also have to install an ignition interlock system when you regain your license, and attend alcohol counseling. If aggravating factors are present at the time of your arrest, those penalties may be enhanced, including much higher fines, a greater chance of incarceration and extended license suspension or even revocation. Some aggravating factors include:
- Blood alcohol content: Your BAC is much higher than the legal limit of .08. Pennsylvania's tiered BAC system increases penalties the higher your BAC is.
- Minors: If you have a passenger under age 18 in your vehicle, you face severe penalties if convicted of DUI.
- Speed: Driving under the influence of alcohol at speeds considerably higher than the posted limit can mean additional penalties.
- License suspension: In the eyes of authorities, driving on a suspended or revoked license is a flagrant disregard for the law.
- Repeat offenses: Penalties normally increase with each successive DUI conviction.
- Accident: A motor vehicle accident that results in the injury or death of a passenger in your vehicle or someone in another vehicle can lead to criminal charges.
Laws related to DUI offenses change frequently as lawmakers work with advocates for safety to deter dangerous actions such as driving after consuming alcohol. The odds may be stacked against you if police have dash cam footage, BAC results and officer accounts of your arrest. Since there is so much at stake, you would be wise not to undertake your defense without skilled and experienced legal assistance.