A Guide to Aggravated DUI in West Virginia

Driving under the influence in West Virginia is a grave matter, but when certain aggravating factors are present, the charges and potential penalties escalate dramatically as aggravated DUI comes into play.

Understanding the nuances of these charges, the legal process involved, and the potential defenses requires a thorough examination. Whether you are seeking information for preventative knowledge or you are in need of legal defense, this post will serve as an invaluable resource.

Aggravated DUI in West Virginia

In West Virginia, aggravated DUI is primarily defined by the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Any individual operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.15% or higher is considered guilty of aggravated DUI. This level of intoxication significantly exceeds the standard DUI threshold of 0.08% BAC, underscoring the increased risk and potential harm posed by highly intoxicated drivers.

Several factors can elevate a standard DUI to an aggravated level, beyond just an elevated BAC. Repeat DUI offenses within a certain period can result in heightened charges and penalties. Additionally, driving under the influence with a minor, typically someone under the age of 16, in the vehicle can lead to aggravated DUI charges. If a driver causes an accident resulting in bodily injury or property damage while under the influence, this can also escalate a DUI to an aggravated DUI. Commercial drivers face stricter standards, and operating a commercial vehicle under the influence can lead to aggravated DUI charges based on lower BAC levels.


Harley and Heather gave me peace of mind as they walked me through the process of my DUI. Heather was so quick to answer even the smallest and probably irrelevant questions I had. I was extremely nervous to walk in the courtroom, but Harley made sure I was in and out of there in no time with the best deal I could think of. My DUI charge was reduced to a speeding ticket and some online DUI classes. Would absolutely recommend Harley and Heather if you’re ever in need of a lawyer.”

- Antea Jarazi


The Wagner Law Firm was amazing from beginning to end dealing with my case. This was my first time ever dealing with anything like this and they helped me tremendously and answered all my questions super fast. We got the best outcome possible for my case and I will be recommending Harley and Heather to anyone that’s ever in my situation."

- Savanna Cummings


Harley and Heather do not stop and are excellent at always keeping their clients up to date on the status of their case and never left wondering. They do all the work and are very well connected throughout the state. I will forever be grateful to both Harley and Heather for what they did for me,,,, they aren’t just another law firm, they are great people who truly care. Thank you."

- Clint Anderson

Penalties for Aggravated DUI

In West Virginia, the penalties for aggravated DUI are severe, reflecting the seriousness of the offense and its potential to cause harm. Those convicted can expect mandatory minimum jail sentences, even for first-time offenders. Typically, the minimum jail time is 48 hours, with at least 24 hours served incarcerated, but this can be much longer depending on the circumstances and the number of prior offenses.

Fines for aggravated DUI can vary significantly, generally starting at $200 and reaching up to $1,000. Additionally, a conviction often leads to a prolonged suspension of the driver’s license, usually ranging from 45 days to one year. This suspension is often accompanied by mandatory participation in a safety and treatment program.

Another common penalty is the requirement to install ignition interlock devices in the offender’s vehicle. These devices prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. Courts may also mandate participation in community service activities and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Facing an aggravated DUI charge in West Virginia is a serious situation that demands a knowledgeable and strategic legal defense. The implications of a conviction extend far beyond the immediate legal penalties, potentially affecting one’s employment opportunities, personal relationships, and social standing.

Harley Wagner

Defending West Virginia Residents for over 24 Years

Possible Defenses in Aggravated DUI Cases

Successfully defending against aggravated DUI charges requires a nuanced understanding of the law and a well-formulated defense strategy. Below are several defense strategies that can be employed in cases of aggravated DUI in West Virginia.

Challenging the BAC Level

One of the most common defense strategies involves questioning the accuracy and calibration of the breathalyzer device used during the arrest. These devices require regular maintenance and calibration, and failure to adhere to these requirements can lead to inaccurate results. The procedure used by the officer during the administration of the breathalyzer test can also be challenged. Proper training and adherence to protocol are crucial for a valid test result.

Medical Conditions 

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or diet-related issues, can produce substances in the body that might falsely elevate BAC readings. Demonstrating such a condition can undermine the validity of the BAC evidence.

Case Results

DUI Felony 3rd Offense

Not Guilty

DUI 1st

Not Guilty

Aggravated DUI 1st

Charge Reduced

.08 DUI Causing Death

Case Dismissed

DUI Felony Fleeing / Attempted Murder by Vehicle

All Charges Dismissed

.14 Felony DUI Causing Death Case

Reduced to Misdemeanor

Contesting the Traffic Stop

A foundational defense strategy involves arguing that the initial traffic stop was unlawful. If there was no legitimate reason for the stop, or if the stop was conducted in a manner that violates legal standards, any evidence gathered as a result can potentially be suppressed.

If the arrest occurred at a sobriety checkpoint, it is crucial to ensure that the checkpoint met all legal requirements for operation, including proper signage and adherence to systematic procedures.

Questioning Officer Observations

The results of field sobriety tests are highly subjective and depend heavily on the officer’s interpretation. Factors such as uneven road surfaces, poor weather conditions, and physical impairments unrelated to alcohol consumption can all affect performance and can be used to challenge the results. Defense can question the reliability of the officer’s observations regarding signs of intoxication. Fatigue, allergies, and other factors can mimic signs of impairment.

Procedural Defenses

If the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights at the appropriate time, any self-incriminating statements made during or after the arrest might be excluded from evidence. Attorneys can also challenge the handling and analysis of any blood test samples to ensure that there was no possibility of tampering or error in the chain of custody.

Alternative Explanations

The rising blood alcohol concentration defense argues that although the BAC was over the legal limit at the time of testing, it was below the limit while driving. Alcohol can take time to absorb into the bloodstream, and the BAC could have risen between the time of the stop and the time of the test.


In rare cases, a defense of necessity can be argued if the person was compelled to drive under duress, to prevent a greater evil.

Aggravated DUI charges in West Virginia carry severe consequences, but there are numerous ways to challenge such charges effectively. Each case is unique, and a defense strategy must be tailored to the specific circumstances and evidence at hand. 

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Defending Drivers’ Rights

Facing aggravated DUI charges in West Virginia is a serious and potentially life-altering situation. The complexities of DUI laws and the severe consequences of an aggravated DUI conviction necessitate a robust and knowledgeable defense. Understanding your rights and the legal options available is crucial in navigating this challenging time.

At The Wagner Law Firm, we focus on DUI defense and are committed to providing our clients with the aggressive representation and personalized attention they need. Our team is equipped with the experience and resources to challenge the evidence against you, ensuring that every legal avenue is pursued in your defense. We understand the nuances of West Virginia DUI laws and how to effectively manage and potentially mitigate the charges you are facing.

If you or a loved one has been charged with an aggravated DUI, do not face this daunting challenge alone. Contact The Wagner Forum immediately to schedule a consultation.