Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime in California. A conviction for a first-time offense results in a jail sentence of up to six months, a maximum $1,000 fine, and driver’s license suspension for no more than six months.
However, it is possible to be subject to increased penalties—or even be charged with a felony DUI—if certain aggravating factors are evident. An aggravated DUI involves circumstances that make the charge even more dangerous.
The following are common aggravating factors that can lead to harsher penalties and more serious charges:
- High blood alcohol content (BAC) – The legal limit in California is .08 percent, which means having a BAC at or over that amount is considered drunk driving. However, having a BAC of .15 or higher will result in increased penalties, such as driver’s license suspension for up to 10 months.
- Excessive speed – If you were driving more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit on a street or more than 30 mph on a highway at the time of the DUI arrest, a conviction can lead to an additional 60 days of jail.
- A minor passenger in the vehicle – If you were driving with a child under 14 years old at the time of the DUI arrest, a conviction can lead to increased jail time. For instance, the first offense of this type of drunk driving offense adds a mandatory 48-hour jail term.
- Car accident – If you were involved in a car accident while drunk driving, you could either be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether the victim of the accident suffered injuries or passed away. Keep in mind, there is a one-year jail/prison enhancement—with a maximum of three years—for each victim. If you were involved in a hit-and-run while you are drunk driving, you will most likely be charged with a separate hit-and-run charge in addition to a DUI charge.