Aggravated DUI

iStock_000014061964_LargeBy May of 2007, every state, including Washington, D.C., made it an illegal offense to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more. The offense is known as DUI “per say,” and it has nothing to do with how drunk a driver may or may not be. A person can be arrested for a DUI if they have a BAC below the legal limit, but demonstrates obvious signs of being drunk by failing field sobriety testing or committing a traffic violation.

The penalties for driving under the influence are quite serious, because each state considers it a criminal offense. However, while a normal DUI is severe on its own, being charged with an “aggravated DUI” is much worse. An aggravated DUI can be charged when an individual is caught committing another offense, in addition to driving while under the influence. The penalties for an aggravated DUI are tougher than what one would face with a misdemeanor DUI.

If you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of DUI, the officer will ask you for a copy of your driver’s license and insurance card. If your license is revoked or suspended, you could be charged with an aggravated DUI. If you were involved in an accident and someone was hurt or killed, or you ended up causing property damage, you may be charged with an aggravated DUI. The same can happen if your blood alcohol content was higher than the legal limit of 0.08%.

Additionally, if you transport a minor in your vehicle and are arrested for being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you could be charged with an aggravated DUI. If you want to know your state’s specific statutes, you can find the information online.

An aggravated DUI is a felony. Being convicted of this charge can be far more serious than a regular drunk driving arrest.

In the event someone has been arrested and convicted of two or more prior DUIs within a certain period of time, it could result in an aggravated DUI charge. Even though someone may be faced with an aggravated DUI, there is a chance the charge could be reduced or dismissed. The key to working through these charges is to consult with an attorney.

Hiring an attorney is probably the best way you can avoiding the more serious penalties that may include probation, fines, court costs, driver’s license suspension, vehicle confiscation and possibly prison.

Drunk Driving Statistics

Car AccidentAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 30 people in America die every day because of a vehicular crash involving drunk driving. If you think about it on an even bigger scale, this figure amounts to 1 death every 51 minutes. Additionally, the CDC also figures the yearly costs associated with alcohol-related accidents total more than $59 billion.

Thankfully, there are stricter laws and effective measures in place to help prevent accidents and deaths related to drunk driving.

Whether or not someone is impaired from alcohol isn’t determined by the type consumed, it’s dependent on the number of drinks a person has consumed over a certain period of time. According to DoSomething.Org, the average person will get behind the wheel and drive drunk approximately 80 times before he or she will be arrested. Alarming isn’t it?

In another statistic by DoSomething.Org, between 50% to 75% of all individuals who have had their license revoked because of a DUI or DWI, will drive illegally without a license. Thanks to law enforcement and stricter laws, there has been a steady decline in the number of fatalities due to alcohol-related accidents.

Today, children are starting to drink alcohol at a younger age, and by the time they reach the teen years or become a young adult, many will wind up hurt from an alcohol-related accident and/or become physically addicted to alcohol.

DrinkingandDriving.Org reports 140,000 men, women and children have been killed from drunk driving since September 11th, 2001. Although alcohol related deaths have been reduced, something more must be done to save lives.

What can be done to prevent drunk driving? There are many ways in which drunk driving can be prevented and it starts by planning ahead whenever you plan on going to a social occasion where alcohol is offered. You should decide ahead of time who will be the designated driver. When you go out and socialize with a group of friends, it’s a good idea to take turns being the designated driver, that way it’s fair and everyone gets home safely at the end of the night.

Designated drivers have saved countless lives and prevented even more people from getting behind the wheel and becoming hurt or hurting someone else in an accident.

If you happen to be at a bar or party and notice one of your friends has drank too much, take the keys away to prevent him or her from getting behind the wheel while impaired. Depending on where you live, rather than driving intoxicated, take public transportation – in these situations it’s better to be safe than sorry!

DUI Classes

Judge Holding DocumentsIf you’ve been convicted of a DUI or DWI, there’s a good chance you could be ordered to attend DUI classes. It’s normal to have a number of questions about these classes, so read on to find out more information.

Firstly, many places that offer DUI classes will work around a person’s school and work schedule. The classes could be offered during the day, in the evening or on weekends. However, some places will offer courses online, but it’s up to an individual state whether or not to allow a person to take the courses on the Internet.

Another thing you’re probably wondering about is the cost of these classes. Normally, the cost of the program is to be paid by the offender and will depend on how long the person is ordered to take classes. The length of time a person must attend DUI classes will depend on different factors such as the blood alcohol content at the time of arrest, the number of offenses, and any other relevant circumstances determined by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the court. A person will receive paperwork after court that should tell them how many classes are required and there should be a contact number for a local provider.

Attending a DUI class will consist of a face-to-face session, as well as educational sessions and group meetings. Counselors will work with each client to help in goal setting and educating the person about the dangers of drinking and driving. Normally, DUI classes can address the effects of alcohol and/or drugs on the body, DUI laws, the dangers of drunk driving, and methods of avoiding another DUI conviction. Generally, there is no “homework,” but the people attending are expected to participate and pay their fees as scheduled.

After a person has been convicted of a DUI and ordered to attend classes, it’s very important to have regular attendance because truancy is not tolerated. These classes are very strict. If someone doesn’t take class seriously or doesn’t show up as scheduled, it could possibly result in expulsion, which would mean any money and progress made are forfeited and the person must start all over again.

If you have been arrested and sentenced to a DUI class, at least now you have some kind of idea of what to expect. Once you’ve completed the required course work and finished your classes, you will receive documentation to prove you’ve complied. This information can be forwarded to the court and DMV, so that you may be eligible for license reinstatement.

DUI Expungement

Female Judge Writing On PaperIf you were convicted of a DUI in the past, you could be interested in expunging it from your record. Having a DUI expunged could be a good idea if you’ve been dealing with its negative consequences, such as being unable to gain employment in certain fields. It’s important that you realize not every state allows DUI expungement, and even if you live in one of the states that does, you might not be eligible.

An expungement means a DUI conviction will be removed or erased from public record. It’s only possible to get an expungement by a judge if you file a petition to request it. In other words, in states that recognize and allow expungements, the results can be just like the conviction never took place.

The length of time that must elapse in order to petition for a DUI expungement will be different for each state. It may be beneficial to consult with a DUI attorney to find out when and if you may be eligible to have your DUI conviction expunged. Generally, it will take at least one year before it’s possible to have a DUI removed from your record.

You need to remember that DUI convictions have both a criminal and an administrative side. You may need to inquire with an attorney to see if it’s possible to expunge the DUI from your criminal record, as well as your driving record. In most cases, you won’t be able to have a DUI expunged from your driving record, but each situation is unique.

After you have completed your DUI classes, and paid off your fines and court costs, you may still find a drunken driving conviction haunts your life. If so, it might be time to consider an expungement. When a judge is thinking about whether to expunge your DUI or not, he or she will look at whether you’ve had any other criminal convictions, particularly any that were alcohol-related. It’s important for you to have a clean criminal record and that your driving record is clear, otherwise your request for expungement could be rejected.

If you are thinking about exploring DUI expungement, a local DUI lawyer is going to be the best source of information about the laws in your state. You may wish to consult with an attorney before actually trying to petition for an expungement on your own, because it’s a complicated process and there may be some important things you just can’t do on your own.


iStock_000000491381_LargeHave you been charged with a DUI? Or, perhaps you’ve received a ticket for a DWI? Do you know there are differences between these two charges? A DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” The offenses may sound alike, but in some states there are separate statutes for each crime.

If you live in a state that classifies a DUI and DWI separately, the DUI is the least serious of the two offenses. A DUI is charged when someone has a lesser degree of impairment than a DWI, in which a driver’s impairment level is determined through blood alcohol content at the time the person is arrested. In some situations, a state might accept a plea bargain for a DWI and a person could be granted a reduced charge of DUI.

There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a person to be given a reduced sentence. It’s up to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney and/or judge to decide if a reduced charge is satisfactory or not.

A person’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, will determine whether they are charged with a DUI or DWI. The BAC for these charges are both 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and older.  0.05% BAC may also be considered illegal in some states, if the driver is obviously impaired. For either charge, a driver under the age of 21 may have either a 0.02% BAC or no BAC in a state that observes a “Zero Tolerance” stance.

The legal drinking age all across America is 21. No matter what state you are in, if you’re not 21, you can’t legally buy or consume alcohol. The concept of “Zero Tolerance” laws for young people is based on a very simple concept, because it’s illegal to drink unless you’re 21, it also illegal for a young person to drive with any alcohol in their system.

Drinking and driving is a very serious offense and when a person is convicted, it can wind up costing thousands of dollars in legal fees, court costs, fines, alcohol education classes and much more.

The laws surrounding “Zero Tolerance” are tough, but that’s the idea! It doesn’t take much alcohol to be considered legally intoxicated. All it can take for a person to be considered legally intoxicated is just one drink, so it’s not worth it to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel.

How to Beat a DUI

iStock_000002476983_MediumThe penalties for being charged with a DUI or DWI can be quite serious. If someone has been arrested for drinking and driving and wants to fight the charge, it’s important to understand all the various defenses available. By creating a valid defense, a person may be able to persuade the prosecuting attorney to drop or reduce the charges.

In a DUI/DWI case, a prosecutor has the burden of proving two things. First, the prosecutor must prove the person charged with the offense actually drove the vehicle. Secondly, at the same time of proving who drove, a prosecutor must prove the person was actually under the influence. Proving someone is under the influence means the person’s ability to drive safely was impacted to a considerable degree by drinking alcohol or using drugs or a combination of the two.

The possible defenses available to someone charged with a DUI/DWI will depend on where the individual has been arrested.

First of all, if you weren’t driving at the time you were arrested for a DUI/DWI, then you can’t be convicted. Most often a case starts with a driver being pulled over, but if the officer wasn’t observant and didn’t actually “see” someone driving (such as a driver sitting in an idle car in a parking lot), the issue could be debated based on lack of evidence.

If an officer didn’t have legal justification to stop your car and arrest you in the first place, or if the officer failed to follow the proper legal procedures during the arrest – it could make any evidence rendered inadmissible in court.

When an officer doesn’t have legal justification or “probable cause” to stop, detain and arrest a driver, it may be possible to have any evidence obtained during the arrest from being admissible in a trial.

If you are arrested, a police officer, by law, must make you aware of your Miranda rights. These warnings are a part of the arrest process, but if neglected, may be the grounds you need to beat a DUI.

In addition to these various examples of how you could beat a DUI, there could be many others. To find out more about your rights and how you could possibly fight back against a DUI charge, it may be beneficial for you to speak to an attorney that can answer your questions and think of a plausible defense to help you get out of a DUI.

Is a DUI a Felony?

Judge in his courtroomIn most cases, a first-time DUI or DWI is charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, if a person was hurt as a result of drunk driving, some states might increase the charge to a felony. If there was an accident and a victim dies, the person drinking and driving could be charged with reckless homicide.

A number of states will raise a DUI charge to a felony if the driver has had previous DUIs in the past. Misdemeanors and felonies are different, but most people don’t know exactly how. Whether a charge winds up as a misdemeanor or a felony will depend on what type of conviction it is, and the length of punishment given for the crime. Misdemeanors could possibly carry the chance of incarceration in the county jail for one year or less, while a felony charge usually results in a term in state prison for more than one year.

As with any type of criminal charge, a person arrested for a DUI is still considered innocent until proven guilty. Some states require a minimum jail sentence of several days for all first-time DUI offenses. Other states will revoke a driver’s license on a person’s first DUI arrest. In addition to possible jail time and having a driver’s license suspended, a person may have to attend alcohol awareness classes and could be subject to fines and court costs.

A minor (under the age of 21) who has been arrested for DUI will not get any special considerations when it comes to punishment for the offense. In fact, being under the legal drinking age could serve to make things much worse. In some states, younger drivers have a lower blood alcohol range and the offender is likely to receive a one year license suspension.

In each state, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains a record of all licensed drivers. If a person is a licensed driver in any state, their DMV record will contain a complete driving history. Such things that may be found on a driving record include; hit and run, DUI, reckless driving, DWI, moving violations, accidents, suspensions and revocations. The length of time a violation will appear on someone’s driving record will depend on the laws of the state and the specific type of violation. Most violations remain on a person’s driving record for up to three years, but a DUI/DWI can remain for up to a decade.

Jail Time for DUI

Handcuffed HandsWhen we think of people behind bars, we tend to think of violent offenders who have done something horrible. However, what you might not realize is that if you are charged with a DUI, you could very well be convicted and sentenced to jail time. Lawmakers are cracking down and voting on harsher penalties for DUI offenders, and jail time is just one outcome you could face.

Drunk driving penalties will vary from state to state, and many have mandatory jail time in place for drivers who have been convicted of a DUI. State legislatures determine the minimum and maximum penalties for a DUI and jail time could be imposed. The length of time a drunk driver will spend in jail is determined by the following factors; age, prior offenses, blood alcohol content and whether the driver had an alcohol-related accident involving injuries or death. Another issue, which could land a driver in serious trouble and a hefty jail sentence, is transporting a child when driving drunk.

Because many states now require a mandatory jail sentence for a DUI, a judge will not have any say in the matter.

In addition to facing possible jail time due to a DUI conviction, a driver will face an increase in car insurance, employment problems and difficulty renting a vehicle in the future.

You know DUI/DWI laws will vary with different jurisdictions, but most do not require a mandatory jail sentence for a first time offender. However, almost all states will impose jail time on someone’s second or third conviction. In many states, a three-time DUI offender who is convicted will spend three or more months in prison, but each case is unique.

When a person is arrested for a DUI, it will require an appearance before a judge. An arraignment is the first court appearance and it involves a defendant being formally charged with a crime. At the time of the arraignment, a person will be asked to respond to the charges against them by entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Before you go to court on a DUI charge and are possibly faced with a conviction and jail time, hiring an attorney could be the best recourse. If you are faced with a DUI, or if this is your second or third offense, you should give serious thought to hiring a lawyer, because the possibility of jail time is very real.

License Reinstatement

Couple With Judge In CourtIf your driver’s license has been suspended for DUI, it can be quite a lengthy process to have it reinstated. Driving is a privilege, and when convicted of a DUI, the state wants to send you a stern message not to do it again. However, to get back the freedom of driving, you’ll need to know what you have to do get your privileges reinstated.

The process you’ll have to go through for license reinstatement will depend on the state you live in. However, the way you go about doing it will involve similar steps.

You may not want to think about the hassles, but you should be prepared to spend some time at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The first thing you need to do to have your driver’s license reinstated is to figure out exactly why it was suspended. Some DUIs result in your license being suspended, while in other situations, it is considered revoked.

There is a difference between having a license suspended and revoked. It’s easier to have a suspended license reinstated, but not so with a revocation. If your license was suspended as a result of a DUI, you may just need to pay a fee and provide proof of having insurance. If your license was revoked, it can be a bit more complicated and it may necessitate a visit to the DMV.

Generally, before you can get your driver’s license reinstated you must do the following things:

  • Completing your court requirements is very important, and you might have to attend DUI classes, take a driving class or pay fines. However, whatever you’re sentenced to do, it must be done before you can get your license back.
  • Get proof of insurance for the court and call your insurance agent to have the paperwork done before you try to get your license back.
  • Show up at your court hearing prepared and take the matter seriously. If you don’t, you may not get your license back.
  • On top of any court fees you have to pay, you may be required to pay a reinstatement fee before your license will be reinstated. Pay up on the spot and your chances of getting your license back will be even better.

The process you must go through to get your license back will depend on the state you live in, but generally, most have a similar process to what’s been described here. If you have any questions, you may wish to consult with a DUI lawyer and your state DMV.

Underage DUI

Drunk young men in hallway with bottlesUnderage DUI is a serious problem all across the United States. Underage drivers are more reckless, and many don’t wear a seatbelt while driving. In most states in America, anyone who is under the age of 21, and caught operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02% or more, can be arrested for a DUI.

In North Carolina and Arizona, the laws for underage DUIs are even more severe. These states have a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking. In these states, having any alcohol in the blood that registers on a BAC test will result in a driver being automatically arrested for driving while intoxicated or under the influence. Some states have a lesser margin with a blood alcohol content of .01% causing drivers to experience penalties, and a higher blood alcohol content of .05% will result in an automatic DUI charge.

Besides being fined, which can be anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, an underage driver charged with a DUI will probably wind up with an automatic license suspension. Generally, a license suspension could last from 6 months to a year. The driver will probably be required to attend drug and/or alcohol awareness and driver’s education classes, as well as being ordered to perform a certain amount of hours of community service.

Sometimes, in lieu of community service, the offender may have to pay a fine, and other times it may be a combination of both. There is also a very good chance the individual may be required to serve jail time, depending on the state laws and the facts related to the case. Generally, for a first-time DUI offense, an underage offender may have to serve at least one day, or it could result in a sentence of up to a year. In addition to jail time, an underage offender will be subject to a period of probation from three to five years and could also be sentenced to community service.

Something which many young DUI offenders may not realize is that disclosure of the conviction will be necessary for college applications, job applications, or if the person is applying for certain types of financial aid. Failing to disclose a DUI conviction could result in loss of rights, loss of financial aid and difficulty finding a job. Finally, a lot of states have an automatic “use and lose” policy which means any person under the age of 21 found to be driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol could face an automatic license suspension, no matter what the circumstances.