Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors are circumstances that support greater punishment.

If there are aggravating factors present in your DUI case, prosecutors and courts are less likely to provide a lenient sentence. This happens for two reasons: First, because of public pressure in higher-profile DUI arrests and second, due to state laws requiring stiffer sentences. Typically, aggravating factors include prior DUI convictions, driving while a license is suspended, causing serious personal injury to another person, or a DUI arrest with a child present.

Below are a few examples of situations that could lead to an aggravated DUI charge with enhanced penalties:

  1. Exceedingly High Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): States all set a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is usually .08%. When the BAC is two or more times the legal limit, depending on the state, the DUI becomes an aggravated DUI. Essentially, the law posits that anyone who is caught driving with a BAC over the legal limit has committed DUI. In the event that tests reveal that a suspected DUI driver has a BAC that is extremely high, the crime moves into the realm of an aggravated DUI, which is also known in this instance as an “extreme DUI.” This offense carries the possibility of greater prison terms and higher fines.
  2. Minors in the Vehicle: The presence of minors in the vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest can also result in an aggravated DUI. States have different age ranges for the minor that will trigger enhanced DUI penalties. For instance, some states require that the minor in the vehicle be younger than 16, while others set the maximum age for the minor at 12. Some states also increase the penalties for a DUI conviction if the offense occurs in a school zone, regardless of whether children were present in the car.
  3. Multiple DUI Convictions: Courts also will require more severe sentences if the driver has had multiple DUI convictions, sometimes even when one or more of the multiple convictions occurred in another state or states. States give harsher punishments to repeat offenders in order to deter people from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after their first DUI conviction.
  4. Suspended or Revoked License: If a DUI defendant is caught driving on a suspended or revoked license, the activity may result in an aggravated DUI charge. Penalties for this situation increase because the defendant has shown a blatant disregard for the law by driving on a suspended or revoked license.
  5. Excessive Speed: A state can charge a DUI defendant with excessive speed in addition to DUI. In some states, if a person exceeds the speed limit by a certain amount, it may also result in an aggravated DUI charge. For example, if police measured a DUI defendant driving 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, the defendant could face a much higher sentence than they would if they had driven 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Contact Brian Zeiger

An experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it is critical to have an experienced attorney advocating on your behalf. Brian Zeiger is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend your rights. Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340 for a consultation, and let us help you.


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