Los Angeles DUI Aggravating Factors
A person who has been convicted of driving under the influence will have the terms of their sentence read to them in open court by the judge. While the Vehicle Code calls for several mandatory sentencing requirements, there is a great deal of flexibility when it comes to what type of the sentence a judge ultimately imposes. When imposing sentence, the judge will pay special attention to any aggravating factors that may have existed.
1. Traffic Collision
One of the most significant aggravating factors that can control what type of plea bargain is offered and what type of sentence is ultimately imposed is whether the DUI driver was involved in a traffic collision. Judges and prosecutors tend to treat these offenders more severely, as their drinking and driving led to the type of accident that could have easily resulted in injury or death.
Someone convicted of driving under the influence who was involved in a collision would be required to pay restitution to the victim for any damages incurred. At sentencing, the judge will schedule a restitution hearing and the prosecutor will reach out to the victim. If the victim has not been compensated by the defendant’s insurer or if the damages exceeded the defendant’s coverage limits, the defendant will be required to pay restitution to the victim. The defendant can challenge the amount of restitution at the hearing.
In addition to restitution, DUI drivers who were involved in an accident may have more onerous conditions of probation imposed. This may include community service or community labor as a result of the collision. The judge may also require the defendant to complete a longer drug and alcohol education program to ensure that the driver learns about the inherent risks of impaired driving.
2. High BAC
Another aggravating factor that will lead to enhanced penalties is having a blood alcohol content that is considered excessively high. The legal limit is 0.08 percent, however defendants whose blood alcohol content was greater than .15 percent or .20 percent can face more extensive penalties. Prosecutors and judges are concerned about drivers who were extremely intoxicated at the time of driving and will often require these drivers to complete longer drug and alcohol education programs. While the standard first program is three months long, drivers with high BACs may be required to complete the six or nine month classes. In addition, a judge may also require additional community service or community labor in addition to other terms of probation.
3. Prior DUI Convictions
Having prior DUI convictions on one’s criminal record will trigger mandatory sentencing requirements. If the defendant had DUI convictions within the previous ten years, any sentence will require the defendant to serve time in jail in addition to a drug and alcohol education class that is at least 18 months. For a defendant’s fourth DUI offense within 10 years, he or she can be charged with a felony and could be sent to prison upon conviction. Even if the defendant’s prior convictions occurred outside of the ten year lookback period, judges and prosecutors will be aware of the prior convictions and will usually take them into account when imposing sentence.
4. DUI Refusal
Refusing chemical testing is another aggravating factor that can lead to the imposition of enhanced penalties. Not only would a driver who refuses testing lose his license for a full year without the possibility of a restricted license, he or she could face more severe penalties if convicted in court. A driver who refuses testing may have to spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail and could be required to complete a longer drug and alcohol education program, in addition to community service or community labor hours.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense and are concerned about potential penalty enhancements, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively fight DUI cases. Mr. Kraut works hard to help his clients avoid some of the harsher sentencing enhancements that the prosecutor may be requesting.
For more information about DUI aggravating factors, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.