The safest way to avoid a DUI charge is to make a plan for a safe ride home before you begin drinking alcohol. You may think you know your limits, but many things can alter the way alcohol affects you. Police do not necessarily need a .08 blood alcohol content to arrest you if your driving is erratic. On the other hand, even if your driving is fine, a .08 BAC can result in your arrest under Pennsylvania’s per se laws.
While the penalties for a DUI conviction can be harsh, even for a first offense, there are other factors that can make the situation even worse for you. These aggravating factors increase the severity of the offense and can lead to the enhancement of penalties that are already harsh.
Aggravating factors are those situations that cause a normal DUI offense to be even more egregious. This can result in enhanced penalties, such as years added to a jail sentence or a significant increase in fines. For example, if your BAC is .10 or higher, you can expect enhanced penalties if a court convicts you of DUI. If your BAC is .16, which is double the legal limit, the chances of even more severe consequences are great. Other aggravating factors include any of the following:
- You have a child in the vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest.
- You are driving on a suspended license due to a previous DUI.
- You are speeding more than 30 mph over the limit while impaired by alcohol.
- You cause an accident that results in serious injury or the death of someone else.
- You already have a DUI conviction on your record from the past 10 years.
With each DUI conviction, the consequences become more dire. In fact, a second offense carries mandatory jail time, much longer license suspension and double the fines of a first offense. There is a reason for this. Lawmakers in many states are tightening their drunk driving legislation in an effort to deter those who have been drinking from getting behind the wheel.
Understanding the harsh and sometimes life-long consequences of a DUI conviction may be enough to prompt you to find another way home after consuming alcohol. However, if you face DUI charges, especially those with aggravating factors, you have a lot on the line, and you would do well to seek the counsel of a skilled defense attorney.