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Aggravating Factors in a California DUI

A first DUI offense in California carries a maximum jail sentence of six months, a fine not exceeding $1,000 (not including other costs), and the suspension of your driver’s license. However, if any aggravating factors exist, the seriousness of the charges and penalties will increase. A first-time DUI could end up resulting in more severe penalties or even a felony charge. 

The following are common aggravating factors in a California DUI: 

  • High BAC – In order to be charged with DUI, your blood alcohol content (BAC) needs to be at least .08 percent at the time of the arrest. If your BAC was at least .15 percent – nearly double the legal limit – then a first DUI offense may result in enhanced penalties, such as a longer-term of DUI school or ignition interlock device (IID) installation. 

  • Excessive speeding – Driving over 20 miles per hour (mph) faster than the posted speed limit on a public road or more than 30 miles over the limit on a freeway before being arrested for DUI can add 60 days to the jail sentence. 

  • Child passenger – Driving with a minor under 14 years old in your vehicle can lead to an additional mandatory jail term of 48 hours if convicted. 

  • Underage driver – Since individuals who are not 21 years old are not allowed to consume alcohol, driving under the influence can lead to harsh penalties, even if you are below the legal limit. Having a BAC of at least .01 percent is punishable by a driver’s license suspension for up to one year. Having a BAC of at least .05 percent carries a one-year driver’s license suspension, a maximum fine of $100, and participation in an alcohol education program. Having a BAC of least .08 percent will lead to standard DUI penalties. 

  • Injury – If you caused another person’s injury in an accident at the time of your DUI arrest, you could either be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on your criminal history and the circumstances of your case. A misdemeanor DUI with injury carries a jail term of up to one year, a maximum fine of $5,000, and driver’s license suspension for up to three years. A felony DUI with injury is punishable by imprisonment for up to four years, a fine no more than $5,000, and driver’s license revocation for up to five years. 

  • Death – If you caused another person’s death in an accident at the time of your DUI arrest, you could either be charged with either vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by a prison term of up to four years and a maximum fine of $10,000, while gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. 

If you have been arrested for an aggravated DUI in Newport Beach or Orange County, contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC today at (949) 251-0330 and request a free case evaluation. Get at a team of former prosecutors on your side.