A conviction for a charge of driving under the influence is a very serious legal issue for all defendants, and it is so because Florida prosecutors are serious about keeping Florida highways safe. Not only are the state laws written in such a manner that prosecutors have little room to bargain for a charge reduction, rules are also in place that allow enhancement of charges from misdemeanors to felonies when certain material case facts are proven. This can mean a significant difference in potential incarceration time and fines, not to mention service fees and suspension of driving privileges. The penalties can be numerous in the wrong situation, and merely being well beyond the legal driving limit of alcohol concentration is not the only criteria. Just as in any other criminal situation, the details can matter greatly when sentencing is announced.
Excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration
The standard blood-alcohol concentration for a DUI conviction is .08 for the typical adult driver. Commercial drivers are held to a .02 standard, while those who are found guilty of driving under the influence while underage is zero tolerance. Any amount of alcohol in a non-adult can be a basis for a conviction. The range of concentration for a simple DUI is between .08 and .149 BAC. Any acceptable evidence reading of .15 or above automatically results in an aggravated charge that could enhance charge level and yield extensive penalties.
Minors in a Vehicle
Driving under the influence with minors in the vehicle can also be criteria for a charge enhancement. The amount of blood-alcohol concentration does not necessarily apply while children are in the car, and wanton endangerment charges could also be in line in certain instances. Prosecutors are serious about protecting children who can be a victim in these circumstances as well as a victim of an accident generating long-term and serious injuries. Enhanced charges can be even more serious for commercial drivers such as taxi operators even at the lower rate of .02 BAC. Underage drivers who are charged with impaired driving also commonly face enhanced charges because the age differential between young adults and minors is very close and peer groups commonly travel together for a variety of reasons.
Accidents Causing Injuries
Another incident that could result in enhanced DUI charges is being involved in an accident that produces injuries while under the influence. Again, the level of intoxication may not necessarily be a factor when injuries are very serious or result in a fatality. Charges can also be enhanced at a later date if an injured victim does not pass away until some time after the fact. Not only can punishment be increased for all phases of sentencing, but punitive damages can be awarded by a sympathetic jury when a DUI accident injury case goes to trial. Fatal accidents can see the charges enhanced to DUI manslaughter even when the driver is not overly intoxicated if other extenuating factors exist such as speeding or other forms of reckless driving.
Why You Always Need Aggressive Legal Counsel
There are multiple reasons it is vital to have solid legal defense when facing an enhanced DUI charge. The fact that a conviction could result in a jail term requires all defendants to have legal representation who can evaluate all state claims and move for suppression of frivolous articles of evidence. Felony convictions result in long prison terms in certain bad situations, and very serious aggravated charges could end in the prosecutor even wanting to try the case and ask for the harshest penalties available from a jury.
Your Attorney Can Matter
Retaining a DUI attorney with a solid track record of results for their clients is always the best decision for anyone charged with enhanced DUI. This step is not just an investment in your freedom. It is an investment for your future life as well. Those in Florida facing an enhanced DUI charge should always call William Hanlon criminal lawyer in Clearwater for effective and aggressive legal representation.