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Aggravating Factors for Florida DUI Charges

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

December 5, 2019

Any charge involving a DUI (or driving under the influence) is serious and comes with potentially devastating consequences. Driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous no matter the circumstances, but certain aggravating factors could worsen your DUI charges, and the penalties that could come with them become more severe than they would otherwise be.

We list the factors below. If one or more of these factors apply to your case, you should consult a Broward criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to handle the matter properly.

Having a Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) Equal to or Greater Than .15%

Blood alcohol level (BAL)—sometimes also called blood alcohol content (BAC)—is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood. The more alcohol you ingest, the higher your BAL will be.

The legal BAL limit is .08%, meaning a .15% would put you at just below twice what is legally acceptable. It would also mean you consumed a substantial amount of alcohol—enough alcohol that you would significantly impair your ability to operate a vehicle.

Getting in an Accident that Causes Damage to Someone Else’s Property

Driving with a BAL more than the legal limit and damaging your property is bad enough, but damaging someone else’s property in an accident makes the DUI someone else’s problem. The person whose property you damaged can sue you for the cost of the property repairs, too.

Getting in an Accident that Causes Injuries to Someone Else

Injuring someone else is even worse than damaging someone else’s property, although most accidents involving personal injuries also involve property damage. Getting into an accident that is bad enough to injure someone else also leaves you open to the possibility of the injured person filing a civil lawsuit against you to recover monetary compensation for their injuries. If the other person severe, catastrophic, or fatal injuries, you will face additional criminal charges.

Having a Minor—Especially a Child Who Is 14 Years Old or Younger—in the Car with You

When an adult voluntarily enters a vehicle with a driver whose BAL exceeds the legal limit, the passenger has made a choice. He or she may have access to some alternative form of transportation available. It is unlikely he or she makes this type of choice under duress.

Minors, especially those age 14 and under, are impressionable. They don’t always have a choice when it comes to cooperating due to the power differential between them and the adults who care for them. They may lack the ability to choose an alternative form of transportation.

Being on Probation for Another Criminal Case

When you are on probation for a criminal case, you need to do everything you can to be on your best behavior. A DUI charge while you are on probation for some other criminal offense is an indication to law enforcement that you are not remorseful of your prior violation. The courts in your new DUI case may determine that probation alone is not a severe enough penalty to deter you from engaging in more illegal behavior.

Having Recent Prior DUI Conviction

If an officer charges you with a DUI and you have recent prior DUI conviction—such as one from the past ten years or so—the police and the prosecutor could attempt to label you as a habitual offender. They will use this DUI charge as evidence that the DUI penalties you faced following your previous conviction did not deter you from engaging in the same type of risky behavior that put you on the wrong side of the law in the first place.

Being 21 Years Old or Younger

When you are a young driver, you are forming habits that could stick with you for the rest of your days behind the wheel. Additionally, because younger drivers tend to have much less driving experience than their older counterparts, they pose more of a risk when they drive.

It is also illegal to consume alcohol if you are under 21 years of age. Engaging in one illegal activity, which leads to another unlawful activity, is not likely to win you any points with law enforcement or with the prosecutor’s office.

A DUI Charge During Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation

If you learn any lesson from this, it is that you always want to avoid making it look like you are indifferent about your past criminal indiscretions if you want the police and the prosecutor to be lenient. You can only receive a DUI charge if you were operating a vehicle, which is something you cannot do while if you have received a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

Driving without an active license shows a disregard for several rules you must obey.

Reckless Driving or Excessive Speeding

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions enough that you may not know exactly how you are conducting yourself. Intoxicated driving impairs your driving by impacting your ability to pay attention to your speedometer and control your leg to press your accelerator. Intoxication may lead you to go much faster than you should.

Intoxicated drivers also tend to drive erratically, which will make your speeding even more conspicuous and dangerous to everyone else on the road.

When one or more of the above aggravating factors apply to your case, you need a Broward DUI defense attorney on your side to help you resolve your case favorably. If you decide to represent yourself without the assistance of skilled legal counsel, your DUI penalties could be harsh. If you face a serious DUI charge, time is of the essence.

Contact our team at (954) 840-8713 today to help guide you through the process and fight for your rights.