It Could Always Be Worse: Factors That May Increase Penalties For Driving Under The Influence
If you find yourself facing DUI charges, it can be a frightening situation. Talk with an attorney to reduce some of your stress and to get a fairly accurate picture of what to expect when you appear in court. There are some factors that can make the charges and subsequent penalties more severe, and you will want to be aware of them. Be up-front with an attorney -- like Boehmer Law -- to ensure you get a realistic idea of the mandatory minimum penalties in your state so you can best prepare your defense.
The following situations can make the penalties for a DUI charge much worse in many states:
An accident. If you are in any kind of collision or accident that results in being charged with DUI, the penalties could be more severe. You may be required to provide a form to the court related to whether your insurance company covered the costs of the damage or any injuries prior to having a license reinstated after mandatory suspensions.
Your blood alcohol level (BAC). In many states, the penalties for a DUI are based on levels, and a contributing factor is your blood alcohol level. The higher your BAC, the greater the penalty. Don't refuse to cooperate with a BAC test at the time of arrest, however, or you could face additional, more serious charges and repercussions. Your lawyer may help you refute the BAC evidence later; for instance, some prescription medications can actually raise the BAC even if you weren't drinking while driving.
If there are children in the car. If you had a child in the car when you were arrested for a DUI, you will likely face more charges and penalties. Depending on the age of the children, situation, and other contributing factors, you may also face charges related to endangering the welfare of your child.
Previous offenses. Naturally, if this is not your first offense, the penalty will be more severe. In many states, multiple charges of DUI can lead to being convicted of a felony for being a habitual offender. This can impact your ability to find work, rent a place to live, and even your right to vote!
It is easy to become discouraged when you are facing charges for DUI. Keep your chin up and your nose clean while you wait to go to court, and hire an attorney as soon as possible. If you are unable to pay for legal counsel, the court clerk will provide a form for you to disclose financial information for appointment of an attorney paid for by the courts.