What Is Aggravated DUI? TOP WV Lawyer Explains Aggravated DUI WV Laws

What is aggravated DUI WV? In West Virginia, aggravated drunk driving occurs in all cases with a conviction, and a BAC level of 0.15 grams percent or more. WV DUI laws boost punishment, if that driver is a repeat offender, and facing a 2nd DUI in 10 years in WV, or 3rd DUI charge, ten enhanced, significant punishment will follow.

Of course, a DUI can also be from drugged driving, with no alcohol, but the WV Code has no similar enhanced penalty statutes for any West Virginia DUI-drugs offense. However, West Virginia laws already sanction a DUI-drugs conviction more harshly, by taking away all driving privileges for a longer period of time.

Simply stated, since driving is a privilege, and not a constitutionally protected right, each state determines its rules for anyone driving on that state’s highways.

Aggravated DUI Definition

Aggravated DUI (or some other name for the crime) is part of each State’s public safety responsibility. These types of laws were added to existing drunk driving laws, that date back to America since 1910, when New Mexico and New York passed the initial driving under the influence (DUI) laws.

The Origin of Aggravated WV DUI Laws

Because published traffic safety studies in the 1960s showed that drivers consuming alcoholic beverages who drive with a 0.08 grams percent BAC are (statistically) far more likely to be involved in a DUI accident, the federal government (through the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA) has pushed for over 30 years for all states to more severely punish any drunk driving arrestee who has a BAC level above 0.15 grams percent. Federal highway money has been withheld from states, when non-compliance occurred.

Known as “aggravated DUI” in WV, this enhanced DUI statute increases mandatory DUI penalties, which include administratively revoking the West Virginia driver’s license for 45 days, followed by an option for the driver to get restricted driving privileges for 270 days, after ignition interlock installation. The WV aggravated DUI statute also carries mandatory minimum jail time.

These penalties apply to a first offense DUI in ten years. A repeat DUI in WV incurs much stiffer penalties, for a second DUI offense or 3rd DUI in West Virginia, within 10 years.

Is the Outcome of the Criminal DUI Case Dispositive of the WV DMV Administrative Revocation Action?

In a recent aggravated DUI WV appeal, a Monroe County man was arrested for DUI while on his own land while operating an ATV (all-terrain vehicle). His BAC was 0.17 grams percent. So, a criminal charge of WV DUI was filed.

Later, the criminal charge was resolved by a dismissal at Monroe County Circuit Court, ending the criminal court prosecution. But, the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles continued to pursue the WV DMV administrative suspension for aggravated DUI against Mr. Beckett, who blew 0.17 on a breath alcohol test.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the two legal actions were independent, and that the criminal court action resulting in “DUI dismissed” did not affect the administrative revocation at the West Virginia DMV. Reed v. Beckett, 795 S.E.2d 509, 238 W.Va. 354 (2016).

In making this ruling the highest court in West Virginia overruled a prior West Virginia DUI case, State v. Ball,164 W.Va. 588, 264 S.E.2d 844 (1980), that had held differently thirty-six years earlier.

WV DUI Penalties for Aggravated DUI

License revocation penalties, including the length of a WV license revocation, is controlled by the BAC level of the DUI driver when arrested. Under the WV code, W. Va. Code, § 17C-5A-2, the laws of West Virginia delineate persons under 0.08 grams percent, those between 0.08 grams % and no more than 0.15 grams %, and those drivers tested on a breathalyzer or blood test of 0.15 grams percent or over, which is the aggravated definition.

Do All States Have Similar Statutes as the Aggravated DUI WV Law?

All 50 states have some sort of enhancement of punishments for drivers with high breath alcohol content (BAC) readings. Most use 0.15 grams percent, but others (e.g,, Arizona’s “extreme DUI” uses 0.18 or higher) use a different BAC level reading to drastically increase punishments, for both criminal case penalties and administrative loss of driver license.

In several states (e.g., Idaho), a felony can be charged for an extreme DUI or aggravated DUI, especially if the person is a repeat offender.

States like Utah, Arizona, Missouri, and Illinois have some of the more onerous laws against driving while intoxicated, if the driver has reached about double the legal limit, for unrestrained ingestion of alcohol before or during driving.

Arizona’s DUI law prohibits “driving while under the extreme influence of intoxicating liquor with an alcohol concentration.” The reported appeals discuss the efforts of DUI lawyers for the various accused drivers trying to mitigate mandatory increased punishment and DUI consequences, by seeking to exclude the alcohol breath test results.

By excluding breath test readings, the aggravated DUI charge would only be enforceable as a non-aggravated DUI. In some situations, the cases report what is called a “partially aggravated DUI.”

Abbreviation and Name of Each State

AK          Alaska

AL           Alabama

AR          Arkansas

AZ           Arizona

CA          California

DE           Delaware

FL            Florida

GA          Georgia

HI            Hawaii

IA            Iowa

ID            Idaho

Read about Idaho DUI laws.

IL             Illinois

IN           Indiana

KS           Kansas

KY           Kentucky

LA           Louisiana

MA         Massachusetts

MD         Maryland

ME         Maine

MI          Michigan

MN        Minnesota

MO        Missouri

MS         Mississippi

MT         Montana

NC          North Carolina

ND          North Dakota

NE          Nebraska

NH          New Hampshire

NJ           New Jersey

NM        New Mexico

NV          Nevada

NY          New York

OH          Ohio

OK          Oklahoma

OR          Oregon

PA          Pennsylvania

RI            Rhode Island

SC           South Carolina

SD           South Dakota

TN          Tennessee

TX           Texas

UT          Utah

VT           Vermont

VA          Virginia

WA         Washington State

WI          Wisconsin

WV         West Virginia

WY         Wyoming

Arrested for a WV DUI? The Wagner Law Firm offers you Statewide Representation at the highest level. Speak with Harley O. Wagner, for your private, FREE lawyer consultation. 304-901-7444. Get specific legal advice for any aggravated DUI WV, or first offense DUI charge.