Driving while under the influence or while intoxicated is a charge that carries its own legal consequences, but there are several factors that either aggravate or mitigate the punishments you may encounter in your case.
Some DUI convictions will carry harsher penalties under particular circumstances, while other offenses may only receive the minimum penalties and even lesser legal outcomes in some cases.
Aggravating factors for a DUI charge
Any factor that worsens a DUI charge considers the increased potential or presence of dangerous influences and consequences. Such factors include:
- Whether the DUI resulted in an accident
- A high blood alcohol content
- Operating a commercial vehicle
- Being underage
- Prior DUI charges
- Driving with a suspended license
- Whether a minor passenger was in the vehicle
Aggravating factors may exacerbate charges by either increasing jail time, adding additional fines, mandating ignition interlock devices or extending license suspensions or revocations.
Mitigating factors for a DUI charge
In some situations, DUI charges receive smaller penalties. The court reviews various mitigating factors, which can help your case if found guilty, such as:
- A clean driving record
- A low blood alcohol content
- Voluntary cooperation with officers
- Ownership of your actions
- Seeking treatment
- The absences of prior criminal charges
If this is your first DUI offense, and no other aggravating factors exist in your case, the courts may consider lesser punishments. Possible penalties involved in cases with mitigating factors include community service, probation, lesser fines, reduced charges and mandated treatment.
However, even first-time offenders can receive severe penalties. Ultimately, the courts take into consideration the potential for reoffense, criminal and driving records, risk factors and any harm caused during sentencing, which can escalate or diminish punishments regardless of whether this is your first offense.