Getting arrested for driving under the influence is bad enough.
Whether your DUI case is prosecuted under state law or federal law, the consequences are just as serious.
Still, if a judge decides to convict you just the same, you can expect to pay hefty fines, lose your driving privileges, undergo probation, install an interlock ignition device in your car, attend DUI school, and spend time in jail, among other things.
However, if you think things couldn’t get any worse, you couldn’t be more wrong.
DUIs can quickly get from bad to worse if the following aggravating circumstances are present at the time of your arrest:
A BAC Way Above The Legal Limit
You can get arrested for DUI in most states if your BAC level is at 0.08% or more.
However, a BAC level between 0.15 and 0.19 percent will lead to an Extreme DUI charge in Arizona.
If that BAC level is at 0.20% or more, then the state will charge you with Super Extreme DUI.
From the sound of the said charges alone, you can already tell that the penalties and fines that come with them will be much bigger and harsher.
Jail time for a first-time Extreme DUI offender, for example, is set at 30 days. For those convicted of Super Extreme DUI, that figure increases to 45 days.
You’re A Repeat Offender
While courts are generally more lenient to first-timers, repeat offenders do not get the same kind of treatment.
If it’s your second DUI, you’ll be paying higher fines, serving more time in jail, and suffering a lengthier driver’s license suspension.
A third DUI offense, however, is an entirely different story. While your first two DUI charges will be generally treated as a misdemeanor, a third offense will be upgraded to a felony in some states.
Jail or prison time for a felony DUI in some states may range from six months to a full year. Fines could also be up to $10,000.
You Had Children As Passengers
One of the biggest mistakes you can ever make if you decide to drink and drive is to have children in the car with you.
If you’re over the age of 18 and you get arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence with kids in the vehicle, you will quickly find yourself in a world of trouble.
Having children in the car during a DUI is an aggravating factor that results in severe consequences, from years of jail time, dozens of hours of community service, and thousands of dollars in fines, although the figures may vary from state to state.
And as if aggravated DUI charges are not enough, DUI offenders caught driving with minors as passengers will also be facing separate child endangerment charges.
While child endangerment laws differ by state, the punishments are pretty much similar. The severity of the penalties will depend on whether you were charged with misdemeanor or felony child endangerment.
Since a conviction for both DUI and child endangerment will potentially ruin your life, please have the presence of mind never to drink and drive with children in the car.
You Caused Injury Or Death
Nothing could make things worse for you than if you injured or killed another person in an accident caused by your drunk driving.
DUIs that involve serious bodily injury or death are often charged as a felony, and as such, they carry severe consequences.
The penalties may differ from one state to another, but a felony conviction for a DUI that hurt or killed someone generally comes with multi-year prison sentences that could reach 25 years in some states and fines of up to $10,000 or more.
Injured victims and the families of those who died in an alcohol-related accident may also charge the DUI offender in civil court for damages.
Worst of all, the mutilation, disfigurement, permanent disability, or death of a drunk driving victim will be gnawing at the conscience of the DUI offender who caused it for the rest of his or her life.
If you drink and get behind the wheel, make sure you know a skilled and experienced DUI attorney who will represent you if you get arrested for drunk driving.
Still, there’s no better way to avoid being in a really bad DUI situation than not drinking and driving at all.
About the Author
Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing minigolf with her friends and family in her spare time.