Drunk driving and intoxicated driving charges are very serious, and the law uses such cases to set an example. The penalties and laws surrounding such charges vary from state to state, as do the possible enhancements that can increase the severity of the charges.
Potential enhancements depend on several factors, but the most common types of enhancements to drunk driving charges include operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, drunk driving with a minor as a passenger, drunk driving that causes another person bodily injury, and drunk driving that causes the death of another person. Below you will find a brief description of the most common types of intoxicated driving charges in the United States.
An aggravated DUI is any average DUI charge, but with enhancements. See enhancement examples above. Aggravated DUI charges are the same thing as Felony DUI charges, which is the term used in most states. Additional aggravated DUI offenses include DUI in a school zone, operating a school bus under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving intoxicated without a valid license, having multiple convictions within a short time frame, and more.
Drugged Driving (DUID)
Alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a DUI arrest. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, whether legal or illegal, can lead to a DUID charge in most states, which stands for “driving under the influence of drugs.” A police officer can legally arrest you for a DUID charge simply based on a reasonable suspicion that such drugs are in your system.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in itself; but couple it with an accident and the charges get worse. For example, in Indiana, DUI-related accidents are labeled as Felony DUI charges, and come with severe penalties.
When DUI accidents end with fatalities, the charges increase to DUI manslaughter. Although the fatalities in these cases are unintentional, the charge still come with very severe penalties in most states. DUI manslaughter is a Level 5 Felony, which is a very serious charge.
First-offense DUI charges are generally misdemeanors. But with enhancements or previous convictions, DUI charges turn into a felony very fast. Such factors include multiple convictions, fatalities, presence of children, bodily harm, property damage, and more. With the help of a tough defense lawyer, felony DUI charges can sometimes be reduced to lower felonies or misdemeanors.
A typical DUI charge is a misdemeanor crime, unless there are enhancements involved, or a person has prior DUI convictions within a certain time frame (usually 5 to 10 years). First time DUI offenses are Class C misdemeanors, but with BAC levels higher than 0.15%, they jump to Class A misdemeanors. With the help of a lawyer, Level 6 felony DUI’s can often times be reduced to DUI misdemeanors.
Property Damage DUI
When a DUI accident ends with property damages, the penalties and fines increase dramatically. A person can expect longer jail time, harsher sentencing agreements, and extreme fines. And although these are considered aggravated DUIs, they are not always charged as felonies. However, if property damages are extensive, the charge is likely to increase to a felony.
Most states have a “per se” stance on underage drinking and driving. This means there is a zero-tolerance rule for underage drinking. Any person under the age of 21, the national legal drinking age, is forbidden to consume or purchase alcoholic beverages. Underage drinking is a crime in itself, but combined with driving and DUI charges, underage drinkers face serious penalties. Standard penalties include license suspension, jail time, probation, hefty fines, community service, and diversion programs.