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Aggravating Circumstances in a Southern California DUI Case

When prosecution determines whether a Southern California driving under the influence case will be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, and what the potential range of consequences will be they take into account the existence of any aggravating circumstances.

Aggravating circumstances are factors in a person’s history or in the specific facts of the case that will lead the government to want to impose a higher penalty if the person is convicted. There are several different issues that warrant a red flag: excessive speeding, a traffic accident (with or without injuries), serious injuries to a person other than the driver, a criminal history, and a high blood alcohol level.

Excessive Speeding

In many DUI cases, the driver is initially stopped for excessive speeding. If the person is found speeding, and has a blood alcohol level, the government will take this into serious consideration. Oftentimes it means a mandatory jail sentence, but with a proper defense and argument provided by a knowledgeable DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney the requirement may be excused.

Traffic Accident

When there is a traffic accident, whether it resulted in an injury to a person other than the driver or not, the court will see it as a serious issue. The driver may have barely hit a pole, or scratched the back of another person’s car, regardless it will immediately warrant review as an aggravated circumstance.

Injuries to a person other than the driver

When any kind of injuries are involved, minor or severe the Prosecutor will push for a higher penalty. The person may have suffered from minor cuts and bruises and it will still warrant a higher potential consequence. The consequences will become harsher as the injuries go from mild to severe. A case in which the person other than the driver suffered a chronic or injury warranting hospitalization will definitely be looking at the highest possible sentence allowed by the California Penal Code.

Criminal History

When a person being charged has been charged with the same crime or similar crimes previously, the government is going to see it as an issue. The assumption they will make is that the person is not learning from the prior charges and continues to be charged with the same offense. The charge can also be unrelated but serious enough to put the government on alert.

High Blood Alcohol Content

When a driver has a high blood alcohol level it will qualify as a aggravating circumstance and may be a mandatory jail sentence if it is excessively high. Fortunately, an experienced DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney is able to negotiate with the Prosecutor and reduce the sentence.