What are “aggravating circumstances” in a DUI incident which may be used against an individual by the District Attorney’s (DA) office to enhance potential DUI penalties?by Attorney Felicia Woods-Yates on 03/01/15
What are “aggravating circumstances” in a DUI incident which may be used against an individual by the District Attorney’s (DA) office, to enhance potential DUI penalties?
The following are typical scenarios that the DA’s office considers aggravating circumstances:
- Your DUI violation involved an accident with another car;
- Your chemical test results (blood, breath or urine) returned a Blood Alcohol level of .20 or above;
- At the time you were cited, there were children under the age of 14 in the car; in fact, a Child Endangerment charge may be filed against you;
- Your DUI violation involved an accident, where someone else got injured;
- If you refused to take a chemical test (blood or breath test), then you would be in violation of California’s Implied Consent Law (CVC Section 23612). California’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you implicitly consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). In California, the penalties for refusing to take a blood or breath test begin with a one-year suspension of your license. You could lose your license for two years if this is your second refusal, or if you already had a reckless-driving or DUI conviction within the last ten years. The penalty jumps to a three-year suspension for your third refusal, or if you have had more than one reckless-driving or DUI conviction within ten years;
- If you are currently serving probation for another violation, this may be used by the DA to enhance any DUI penalties;
- If you have incurred two or three DUIs within a short period of time (i.e. - 10 years or less), then this will be used by the DA to enhance any DUI penalties; a fourth DUI arrest, with three prior DUI convictions within a 10 year period of time, would make an individual a candidate for a Felony charge, and a State Prison sentence;
- If you were cited for speeding at least 20 mph or more over the speed limit, and driving in a reckless manner, this may be used by the DA to enhance any DUI penalties;
- An expired or suspended driver’s license may also be used by the DA to enhance any DUI penalties;
- In 1994, "Zero Tolerance" was signed into California law, to discourage underage drinking and driving. If you are under the age of 21 years old, the DMV, the Court and the DA will seek to suspend your license for one-year, pursuant to California’s Zero Tolerance Law (CVC Section 23136). This law states that it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher if you are under 21 years of age. On your first offense, your driving privilege will be suspended for one-year if:
· your BAC is .01% or higher, or
· you refuse to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test - the PAS device is a hand-held breath-testing unit that gives an instant measure of your blood alcohol concentration, or
· you fail to complete the PAS test;
- If the DA decides to file “Hit & Run” charges, along with your DUI charges, then this will naturally be used by the DA to enhance any DUI penalties.
Generally speaking, enhanced penalties can range from community service, longer alcohol offender programs, higher fine amounts, up to and including, time in the County Jail, or in certain circumstances, time in State Prison.
Since everyone's DUI incident is unique to that individual and the specific circumstances, you should consult with a competent defense attorney to determine your best course of action. Felicia Yates has been practicing law for over 30 years in California and can be reached at (760) 326-5297, and found at Law Offices of Felicia Yates & Associates.