A DWI or driving while intoxicated charge is serious business. Aggravated DWI is even worse. There are several factors that determine whether the charge will be a DWI or aggravated DWI.
What is a DWI?
A DWI is like a DUI. The difference between the two changes from state to state, but at the end of the day, they are quite similar. The main difference in determining if it’s categorized as a DUI or DWI is how police collect the evidence. In general, a DWI may provide more hard evidence for law enforcement to apply charges. The use of a Breathalyzer test is the most common tool used to collect evidence and categorize the offense as a DWI.
In California, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) shows .08% or more a DWI charge is certain. If a Breathalyzer or blood test determines the driver is over the limit the driver is always arrested at the scene.
Mitigating factors are facts or circumstances that can reduce a defendant’s sentencing. If a driver is impaired because of lawfully prescribed medication they will receive a leaner sentence. If their BAC was barely over the legal limit and the cooperated with law enforcement that helps as well. Other factors considered are police record, employment, and student status.
Aggravating factors, as opposed to mitigating factors, are facts or circumstances that increase the severity of the sentencing. Typical aggravating factors include high BACs, prior convictions, reckless driving, excessive speeding, driving with a suspended license, causing injury or property damage, and having a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
California law specifies a number of scenarios that result in more severe DWI penalties.
- Minor passenger charge. Having a child less than 14 years of age as a passenger in the vehicle. Having a minor in the vehicle adds a mandatory 48 hours in jail for a first offense, 10 days for a second offense, and 30 days on a third offense.
- Multiple victims charge. Felony DWI involving injury or death to more than one victim, there’s a one-year addition for each victim. The maximum addition is three years.
- Excessive speed charge. Driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on a street or highway. Driving more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit on a freeway. Both will add 60 days to the jail term.
- DWI in safety or construction zones. Fines are doubled for DWIs in these areas.
Always Get an Attorney
An aggravated DWI charge is a life-changing event. One lapse in judgment can radically change the course of a life. It’s strongly advised to immediately contact a lawyer if you’ve been arrested. Even though you may have made a critical judgment error, you still have rights. Torigian Law can help in any legal situation. Call us today and learn more about our services.