Driving while intoxicated offenses(DWIs) are criminal offenses that can attract stiff penalties, such as jail time, high fines, and others. DWIs can be divided into two categories–aggravated, grossly aggravated, and ordinary DWIs.
Aggravated DWIs are also called DUI felonies although they’re commonly referred to as aggravated DUI in most jurisdictions. New Jersey’s Traffic law is typically complex and unforgiving to aggravated DWI offender. Consequently, most people hire the services of a DWI attorney in NJ when faced with intoxicated driving charges.
Aggravated DWI Explained
An aggravated DWI is a DUI with/ having “aggravating factors” at the time of arrest. Aggravating factors in a DWI case can include:
- Gross impairment of a motorist’s driving behavior;
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more at the time of arrest;
- Driving dangerously or recklessly;
- Driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license;
- Prior non-DWI convictions within a specified duration;
- Speeding while fleeing or attempts to avoid arrest;
- Exceeding the legal speed limit by 30 MPH;
- Driving with a child who is less than 15 years;
It’s important to understand that you can still be arrested for DWI if your BAC is less than 0.08% but you exhibited other signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test.
Grossly Aggravating Factors
The Statutes of California defines grossly aggravating factors as:
- Prior DWI convictions within the past seven years of a current DWI offense;
- A second DWI before the sentencing of a current offense;
- Prior DWI appeals that were withdrawn or taken back to the original court;
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license for a past DWI offense;
- Causing serious injuries at the time of arrest;
- Driving with a child who is less than 15 years.
Prior DWI convictions are considered to have separate grossly aggravating factors.
Consequences of Aggravated DWI Offenses
The existence of aggravating factors in DWI offenses can be used by the prosecution to recommend severe penalties, such as public & community service, imprisonment, mandatory enrolling for substance programs, hefty fines, and more. Besides the immediate consequences, your life is likely to be impacted negatively thanks to the presence of aggravating factors. The penalties for DWI offenses include:
One of the penalties for a successful DWI conviction is serving jail time. A first DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor in most states requiring a minimum imprisonment of one to two days and a maximum of six months. However, a longer sentence (usually imprisonment of over v1 year) can be recommended if aggravating factors, such as high BAC, injuries, and fatalities exist.
2. Fines and Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)
Fines typically range between $500-$2,000 and more, although it varies by state. You may also be required to install an IID at your own expense. IIDs prevents you from driving your car if your BAC exceeds the recommended limit. Once the IID is installed, you must blow your breath on it before starting your car.
3. License Suspension and Revocation
The Department of Motor Vehicles is tasked with suspending and revoking licenses but revocation and suspension rules vary by state. However, the common guidelines include:
- 90 days for first DWI offenders, or driving restrictions to allow DWI offenders carry on with their daily lives, such as going to work and school.
- Longer sentences for repeat offenders;
- License suspension for failing to take a BAC test or field sobriety test.
4. Treatment and Education
A DUI penalty can recommend alcohol abuse treatment or enrolling in education programs. Sometimes, this penalty is preferred for first offenders in addition to enrolling for probation and license suspension, community service, or restitution for affected victims.
5. Penalties for Minors
The legal drinking age is 21 in majority in most states and an underage DUI offender could face similar penalties to adults. Some states impose harsher penalties for underage DUI offenders than adults besides suspending the licenses of such offenders.
6. High Insurance Premiums
A DUI conviction results in increased insurance premiums in most states because DWI offenders are considered high-risk clients. An insurance company can withhold all benefits accrued, such as safe driving and will you to pay higher premiums. In extreme cases, the insurance policy will be cancelled and it will be hard to buy a policy from another insurance company. Also, your car can be confiscated by the state if you’re a habitual drunkard.
Enhanced penalties can be recommended with the existence of grossly aggravating factors, such as abnormally high BAC. Enhanced penalties can include:
- License suspension of 90 days;
- Installing an IID for 24 months;
- Driving ban;
- Mandatory imprisonment.
Aggravated DUI charges or convictions can negatively impact your life in the long-term. Consequently, it’s important to consult a legal expert in driving while intoxicated to avoid complicating your future, particularly if you’re still young.