Although a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can come with some heavy penalties, in certain cases the penalties may be even more severe. In such cases, the law prescribes harsher penalties under its “aggravated DUI” laws. Here’s what you need to know if you ever find yourself charged with aggravated DUI.
Under Florida law, several aggravating factors exist that may increase the penalty for a DUI. For instance, as the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%, driving with a BAC of 0.15% or above is classified as aggravated DUI and may lead to a jail sentence of up to nine months and a fine of up to $2,000. Suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license for up to a year is also possible.
Having a minor child in the vehicle is also an aggravating factor in Florida. A child under 18 years old in the vehicle will typically lead to aggravated DUI charges, as well as a DUI that occurs in a school zone.
Repeatedly being convicted of DUI in Florida is also an aggravating factor. A conviction for a second DUI within five years of another DUI will likely lead to a mandatory 10-day sentence in jail. A third DUI in Florida within ten years is charged as an aggravated felony, and may lead to between 30 days in jail and 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and driver’s license suspension for ten years.
Being involved in a car accident while committing a DUI in Florida and either injury or property damage resulting from it constitutes aggravated DUI as well. If the injury is minor, the crime is charged as an aggravated misdemeanor. However, if the injury is serious, the aggravated DUI is classified as an aggravated felony. If a death occurs in the accident, the event is charged as vehicular homicide and can result in up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a lifetime suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
Excessive speed is another aggravating factor that may transform a regular DUI into an aggravated DUI in Florida. Driving 30 mph above the posted speed limit or driving with “willful disregard for others” by driving into oncoming traffic or ignoring traffic signs and signals are classified as aggravating factors in Florida.
The defenses to aggravated DUI in Florida are similar to those of a standard DUI. Among the defenses used against aggravated DUI are
Lack of probable cause to make the traffic stop,
lack of probable cause for arrest,
improper administration of the breathalyzer,
improper administration of the field sobriety test,
the defendant failing the field sobriety test due to illness, injury, or other non-intoxication reasons, and
In addition to the jail/prison sentences and assessed fines, those convicted of aggravated DUI in Florida may expect to be sentenced to perform community service as well. According to Florida statute, judges must sentence those convicted of aggravated DUI to at least 50 hours of community service or $10 in fines for each hour of community service required.