So, you’ve been arrested for DUI in California. What’s next? Before deciding to hire a Los Angeles DUI attorney, it’s important to understand the full scope of the crime for which you’ve been accused. Not all DUIs are the same in terms of sentencing. For example, if you’ve been charged with a DUI and simultaneously charged with a speed enhancement, the latter may impact the former substantially and require 60 days of jail if convicted of both charges. It is important to know the definition of such enhancements and how to eliminate such factors from the final disposition.
Mitigating VS Aggravating Factors
A mitigating factor is something that an experienced attorney can utilize to reduce the charges and the consequent penalties. For example, at a low B.A.C. of .08% to.11%, an experienced attorney can likely reduce the charges down to an alcohol related reckless driving (Wet Reckless). Many times, depending on the facts of driving, an attorney that is known by the prosecution to take cases to trial and prevail at trial provides the prosecution motivation to settle to a lesser charge, e.g. to a Dry Reckless or Exhibition of Speed. Other mitigating factors could be Field Sobriety Tests, evidence that shows absorption of alcohol, or no impaired driving (e.g. speeding only). The list goes on. An experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can help you build a strong defense, develop the facts at the DMV, and get the charges reduced.
Alternately, an aggravating factor, in layman’s terms, is one that makes the situation worse and usually stems from multiple offenses, prior convictions, traffic accident or high B.A.C.
Examples of Aggravated DUI
Aggravated DUIs typically include one or more of the following scenarios and can result extended jail time. In these situations, it is best to seek legal counsel and consider your right to plead “not guilty” during pre-trial proceedings while your case details are under review.
- Prior DUI convictions – Your current case will be more challenging because the law provides more jail time and longer alcohol programs and a longer period of probation.
- Reckless driving or speeding – If you were pulled over for driving 20 MPH over the legal limit on the street (or 30 MPH on the highway), your case will fall under excessive speeding and the danger you posed to others deemed worse than the sole act of drinking and driving.
- Multiple victims – If you caused an accident resulting in the injury or death of multiple persons in any one instance, it is likely that the maximum penalty will be enforced.
- Refusal of a chemical test – Due to the law of implied consent, you are required to submit to a chemical test. If you decline and are forced to take a test, you’ll face harsher consequences than you would if you had initially cooperated.
- Excessive BAC – An excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration is one that meets or exceeds .15%. This could mean the difference between one or two drinks.
- Presence of a minor – If arrested for driving under the influence with a minor passenger (California defines this as anyone under 14 years of age), you may be facing an aggravated DUI or child endangerment.
As with any legal matter, your chances of success are largely dependent upon the facts, proper application of your rights, and the legal knowledge and expertise of a trusted Los Angeles DUI attorney. When faced with charges of an aggravated DUI, you’re likely already under an extreme amount of stress. A legal professional can guide you toward putting such a mistake behind you.