Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is always a serious offense, but there are some circumstances surrounding a DUI charge that can make the situation even more perilous for the offending driver. These various circumstances almost always make a driver's potential problems much worse than a simple DUI case. This article examines some of the most common issues that could cause a DUI charge to be even more devastating than normal.
Excessive Blood Alcohol Content
The amount of alcohol in your system is called your blood alcohol content (BAC). The common BAC limit for drivers in the United States is .08 percent. If a driver does not test below this limit, they are considered intoxicated and will be charged with a DUI. Many states, however, add additional penalties for drivers who test significantly above the .08 percent limit.
Most state statutes regarding more severe penalties for extremely high BAC levels come into play when a driver has a BAC level of .15 percent or higher. For example, those convicted of a DUI in Florida who have a .15 BAC or higher face larger fines and more jail time. The more severe penalties are on the books because so many accidents involving alcohol have at least one driver with a very high BAC, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A driver who has a prior DUI offense, or multiple DUI offenses, on their record, faces more serious penalties than a first-time offender. All states take the number of prior DUI convictions a driver has into account when they are charged. The authorities will also typically consider DUI convictions from other states when filing charges.
One key point regarding prior convictions is that most states have what are called "lookback" periods on the books. This means that DUI convictions that have taken place in the distant past are not counted against an offender. Generally, lookback periods are from seven to ten years.
Children in Vehicle
Another aggravating circumstance regarding a DUI charge is having children in the vehicle. Having a minor in the car could possibly have the charges raised from a misdemeanor to a felony in some states. In others, the driver is not charged with a felony but still faces stiffer penalties than they would otherwise. The age at which a passenger is considered to be a minor varies from state to state.
Anyone facing any type of DUI charge, whether there are aggravating circumstances surrounding the offense or not, should seek the advice of an experienced DUI lawyer.
Contact a local DUI attorney to learn more.