Aggravating Factors in a DUI
Every criminal offense set out by Colorado law also has corresponding maximum penalties that you may face if convicted of that offense. However, at time a particular sentence may exceed the usual maximum penalties for different reasons. One reason is that a prosecutor may argue that “aggravating factors” exist in your case.
An aggravating factor is a circumstance that exists in relation to the alleged criminal offense that makes the offense worse than it would normally be. Some aggravating factors in criminal cases may include premeditation, use of a deadly weapon, or the particular manner in which the offense was committed. The following are some examples of aggravating factors that may exist in a DUI (driving under the influence) case.
The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) for a DUI conviction is 0.08 percent. However, if a breath or blood test shows that your BAC was 0.20 percent or greater, the law requires stricter penalties including mandatory jail time or jail alternatives, greater fines, and more.
Careless or Reckless Driving
If a prosecutor believes that, during your alleged DUI, you drove in a dangerous manner, you may face additional charges and penalties of careless or reckless driving. Such charges require the following:
- Careless driving — Driving in a “careless and imprudent manner” without regard to the traffic, or curves, width, corners or other aspects of the streets.
- Reckless driving — Driving with a “wanton or willful disregard” for the safety of other individuals or their property.
Even if no injury occurs to anyone else, careless and reckless driving are class 2 misdemeanors with possible additional jail time, fines, and administrative license consequences.
DUI Accident occurred
If a prosecutor alleges you caused a DUI accident that caused injury or death, you may face one of the following additional charges:
- Third-degree Assault — Class 1 misdemeanor
- Vehicular Assault while DUI — Class 4 felony
- Vehicular Homicide while DUI — Class 3 felony
These increased offenses may mean serious penalties, including up to 12 years imprisonment for vehicular assault or up to 24 years imprisonment for vehicular homicide.
There was a child in the car
If there was a child younger than 16 in the car when you were stopped for suspected DUI, a prosecutor may add charges of child abuse, which can be a Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor and can mean additional jail or probation time, as well as complications with child custody and social services.
Previous DUI convictions
The penalties increase for a DUI conviction if you have prior DUI convictions on your criminal record. For this reason, it is always important to avoid having any convictions whenever possible.
Contact an experienced Denver DUI defense lawyer for a consultation today
Whether or not any potential aggravating factors exist in your DUI case, you may still face serious consequences and should always discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Denver as soon as possible. An attorney can work to minimize the aggravating factors and related penalties in your case, so please call skilled attorney Jay Tiftickjian at the Tiftickjian Law Firm in Denver for help today.