The People’s Lawyer

What are aggravated DUIs and aggravating factors?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Drunk Driving Charges

Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in West Virginia works much like similar offenses in other U.S. states. If you’re convicted, you potentially face jail time, a fine worth hundreds of dollars and even a license suspension.

For an officer to charge you with DUI, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level must be .08% or higher. However, if your BAC reaches .15% or higher, officials can charge you with something called an aggravated DUI.

DUIs versus aggravated DUIs

What’s the difference between a regular DUI and an aggravated DUI? In a regular DUI, you face a maximum $500 fine, up to six months in jail, a license suspension and a requirement to participate in a 120-day ignition interlock device period. On the other hand, an aggravated DUI features enhanced penalties – notably, the maximum fine you might have to pay increases to $1,000, and the state Division of Motor Vehicles will order you to participate in a 270-day ignition interlock device program.

Officials can charge you with aggravated DUI even on your first offense.

But now that you’re familiar with aggravated DUIs, you shouldn’t confuse them with aggravating factors.

The difference between aggravated DUIs and aggravating factors

Although both aggravated DUIs and aggravating factors are related, they’re two different concepts.

While aggravated DUIs are concerned with high BAC levels, aggravating factors are circumstances or additional violations during your DUI charge that can lead to more severe penalties upon your conviction. These modified penalties usually take the form of increased fines. For instance, a regular first-offense DUI might carry a maximum $500 fine, but if you had a child passenger at the time of the traffic stop, you might have to pay as much as $1,000.

Some other examples of aggravating factors apart from child endangerment include:

  • Your drunk driving caused a collision that resulted in death.
  • You were driving while under the influence of controlled substances.
  • An officer cited you for reckless driving.
  • You’re a DUI repeat offender.
  • Refusing to submit to testing.

Aggravated DUIs and aggravating factors may sound perplexingly similar, but they can make even first-time DUI offenders pay fines usually reserved for subsequent convictions. Aggravating factors can also further enhance an aggravated DUI as if the two weren’t confusing and intimidating enough. West Virginia’s DUI laws might behave like those in other states, but it’s best to consider specific enhancements such as this.