Drunk driving is rarely just drunk driving in West Virginia, and depending on the type of charges against you, you might face more severe legal action. So, what are these categories of DUIs and, more specifically, what is an aggravated DUI?
Aggravated DUIs in West Virginia
An aggravated DUI is a genre of charges that focuses more on other contributing factors and BAC. Blood alcohol concentration or BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in your blood and is a key factor in any DUI case.
While a BAC above 0.15% is enough to get you in trouble, other issues must contribute to the incident for it to become an aggravated charge. For example, speeding while under the influence can be charged not only as reckless driving, but also as an aggravated DUI.
Other aggravating factors may include:
- Minor passengers
- Injuries to another motorist
- Driving with a suspended license
- Death as a result of an accident caused by driving under the influence
Especially in cases involving death and/or injury, convicted motorists face harsh penalties and could have their license permanently revoked. There is also a risk of the charges shifting from a misdemeanor to a felony, which may be the difference between fines and jail time.
Why Are Aggravated Charges Different?
Over 30 years ago, the National Highway Safety Administration pushed for legislation that would provide harsher penalties for accidents involving drivers with a high BAC. Law enforcement officers were encouraged to use a post-arrest forensic breath alcohol test as critical evidence in the case.
As a result of the NHSA’s efforts, states adopted aggravated DUIs into the legal lexicon and have been ruthlessly prosecuting them ever since. Most of the research behind the NHSA’s campaign focused on the increase in fatalities among motorists with a BAC above 0.08%.
Penalties for Aggravated DUIs
In West Virginia, drivers charged with an aggravated DUI may face the following:
- License suspension
- Jail time up to six months
- Mandatory ignition interlock device installation
The degree of punishment you face depends on your record – how many DUIs you’ve had previously. If this is your first offense, the court may choose punishments like driving school and license suspension as a way to reform your driving habits.
Consecutive DUIs or a long record of drunk driving charges may quickly change your situation from bad to worse. As with most crimes in the aggravated category, a history of repeat offenses makes the court less inclined to show mercy.
Can I Fight Aggravated DUI Charges in West Virginia?
The good news is that you can fight back. Whether you are accused of an aggravated charge or another type of DUI, hiring an experienced lawyer is the best way to fight for your freedom.
The law views driving as a privilege not a right, which means if you break the law you forfeit that privilege. At The Wagner Law Firm, we believe that while it is a privilege to drive on the open road, one mistake shouldn’t strip you of your freedom forever.
That’s why we are the premier DUI law firm in West Virginia. We specialize in drunk driving cases and our narrow focus allows us to provide highly strategic legal solutions to your unique case. From drug DUIs to felony cases, our team is prepared to investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, and build a strong defense on your behalf.