Like in all states, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in California with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over .08%.  This is known as driving under the influence or DUI.  A conviction for DUI can result in a number of penalties ranging in length and severity.  In determining the appropriate sentence for someone who has been arrested and convicted of DUI, courts will consider the statutory guidelines, as well as the specific facts of each individual case.  Several factors may weigh in favor of the driver, and will suggest that a lighter sentence should be issued.  These are referred to as mitigating factors.  For example, a previously clean driving record, voluntary completion of substance abuse programs, or a BAC only slightly above .08% might persuade the court that the driver’s DUI was an anomaly.  As such, some leniency will likely be shown at sentencing.  On the other hand, certain factors might indicate that the driver’s DUI was for some reason more serious than a typical DUI, or that the driver has shown a pattern of similar behavior.  These are known as aggravating factors and can lead to harsher penalties, and in some cases even a felony conviction.         

For a first DUI offense, jail time will not be assigned unless some aggravating factors are present. Each county, and each court, will assign varying degrees of importance or interpretation to these aggravating circumstances. Having an experienced defense lawyer like those at the San Diego DUI Attorney, will provide you the best defense in navigating the available options and the tendencies of each court to develop an effective defense strategy.


Aggravating circumstances affecting your case may include the following situations:

  •    You were in an accident with another vehicle or caused some property damage.
  •    You were involved in any type of accident in which someone was injured.
  •    Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.20% or above.
  •    There were passengers in your vehicle under the age of 14.
    • Note: In some cases, this could result in charges of Child Endangerment.
  •    You refused to submit to a breath or blood testing after arrest.
  •    You were on probation from another case at the time of arrest.
  •    At the time of the traffic stop, your license to operate a motor vehicle was suspended, cancelled, revoked, or you did not have a California driver’s license.
  •    You had two or three prior DUI offenses within a short period of time.
  •    You were traveling at a speed of at least 25 to 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit and driving in a reckless manner.
  •    You were under the age of 21 at the time of arrest.
  •    You failed to remain at the scene of an accident and were charged with hit-and-run.

Some of these aggravating circumstances may carry much more serious consequences and as a result, can lead to additional punishments being applied by the courts. These additional penalties can have a very serious impact on your career and your life. Selecting the right attorney will help ensure that you don’t receive a harsher penalty than you deserve. The defense lawyers at San Diego DUI Attorney have the expertise to evaluate your case and offer the strongest protection and advice to help you achieve the best outcome to your DUI charge.

Additional Punishments For Aggravated Dui Convictions

In most first or second DUI cases, a resolution can occur during the plea bargaining stage.  The presence of aggravating circumstances however, will likely prompt the prosecutor to seek additional punishments against you. Additional punishments can include jail time, public service work, community service, mandatory alcohol-related meetings, enhanced fines, longer treatment programs, or felony charges.

Some of the more common aggravating factors are detailed below, and this article will give you a general idea of what to expect if any are present in your case. 

Dui Involving An Accident

Often times, a DUI incident includes an accident with another vehicle, or crash involving some type of property damage.  If you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence in San Diego County, the case may be prosecuted differently depending upon which court has jurisdiction over the case. Regardless, the charges are serious and can result in additional fines or mandatory public service work. The lawyers at San Diego DUI Attorney have experience dealing with such cases and are familiar of the courts’ processes and tendencies. We will help lead your case toward the most desirable result, no matter which court presides over your case.

Dui Causing Bodily Injury Or Great Bodily Injury

Causing bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence can be overwhelming, and is often the most serious type of DUI case.  Such cases can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. If you are involved in a DUI accident resulting in injury to another person, misdemeanor charges will be filed and you could be assessed a minimum of 5 days in a county jail with a one-year license suspension.

More serious injuries resulting in “great bodily injury” (GBI) will often result in your case being charged as a felony. Whether an injury is considered a GBI, is determined on a case by case basis.  The prevailing factors in determining GBI include the severity of the injury, the amount of pain the victim suffered, and the amount of medical care required as a result of the injury. If the court concludes that the accident did cause a GBI, and a felony is charged, a state prison sentence of 16 months may be issued. The court may also punish you with restitution to the victim(s), requiring you to pay damages for your accident, and/or reimbursement to the county for expenses incurred while investigating your accident. The lawyers at San Diego DUI Attorney have experience trying bodily injury DUI cases, and are equipped to handle all facets of your case, including hearings, court appearances, and restitution. We will work to mitigate at each step of the process to achieve the best possible result for you.

Dui Involving Blood Alcohol Concentration (Bac) Over 0.20%

Generally, the more alcohol you consume before driving, the more likely you are to cause harm.  While any BAC over 0.08% can result in a DUI, as you BAC increases, so can your penalty.  If the results of your blood alcohol or breath test indicate a BAC over 0.20%, you may be ordered to attend a 9-month alcohol-related program or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. A breathalyzer may be mandated for the ignition switch of your vehicle and you may be ordered to spend time in the county jail.

Dui With Passenger Under The Age Of 14

If you were arrested for DUI with a minor under the age of 14 in the vehicle, you will be subject to an increased sentence.  The additional jail time can range from 48 hours to 90 days, depending on if you have previous DUI convictions.  In addition to an increased sentence for the DUI charge, the state can also bring a charge for the separate crime of Child Endangerment.  Child Endangerment can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and can carry an additional sentence of up to 6 years in state prison.

Refusing To Take A Breath Or Blood Test After Dui Arrest

Many California drivers are not aware that by obtaining their driver’s license they have given “implied consent” to submit to a breath or blood test if lawfully arrested for DUI.  Even so, arrestees can still decline to be tested.  While declining might seem like the right move at the time, keep in mind that in can lead to several additional penalties.  Refusal to take a breathalyzer or to not allow a blood test at the time of arrest could lead to 48 hours in the county jail and a mandated 9-month alcohol program. Further, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend your driver’s license for a minimum of one year.  If you declined to submit to a test after your arrest, make sure you have an attorney who knows the law, and knows how to protect your rights.  The attorneys at our firm will make sure that you are not taken advantage of. 

Dui While On Probation

Often times, if someone is on probation, operating a motor vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol, even less than the legal limit, will amount to a probation violation. If you were on probation for a prior DUI at the time of your arrest, you will likely face a probation violation hearing in addition to the DUI. This could result in being sentenced to jail time for violating the terms and conditions of your agreed-upon probation. Since a condition of your probation following a prior DUI would likely include not operating a motor vehicle with any measure of alcohol in your system, you may also face an additional 1-year suspension of your driver’s license. The attorneys from our firm have experience dealing with such cases, will accompany you to proceedings, and will work to reinstate the original terms and conditions of your probation agreement.

Dui On A Suspended Or Expired License

If you were operating your vehicle at the time of your DUI with a suspended or expired driver’s license, or if you never received a valid California driver’s license, you may also face additional punishments. In such cases, the prosecutor and court could assess a mandatory 48-hour stay in the county jail. Lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney exclusively handle DUI and criminal defense cases and our expertise will be a great asset to you when aggravated circumstances are involved. We will help you to avoid jail time and work toward the best resolutions for your particular case.

Dui On A Suspended Or Restricted License From A Prior Dui (Vc14601.2)   

If at the time of your arrest, your license had already been suspended because of a prior DUI, your penalties can be much more serious. If your license was suspended because of a prior DUI and the prosecutor charges you with California Vehicle Code 14601.2, you could face a minimum of 10 days in jail, increased fines and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.

Excessive Speed Or Reckless Driving

If you were driving in excess of 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on a highway, or 20 mph on a residential street at the time of your arrest for DUI, and you were driving in a reckless manner, then a prosecutor may charge you with California Vehicle Code 23582. The combination of speeding and reckless driving involves putting people or property at risk and may result in a jail sentence of 60 days.

Dui Hit And Run

In some cases, out of fear, a driver will flee the scene after a DUI accident. San Diego County has aggressively prosecuted DUI cases where property damage occurs and the driver has fled the scene of the accident. If found responsible for hit and run, your driving record will accrue 2 points for fleeing the scene, as well as 2 points for the DUI charges. This could result in a six-month suspension of your driving privileges for being a “negligent operator.” If you were charged with hit and run at the time of your DUI arrest, it is very important that you contact the San Diego DUI Attorney, as you may also be facing jail time and increased fines. Our experienced DUI defense lawyers will work to minimize the points added to your driving record, thus avoiding license suspensions.

The San Diego Dui Attorney Will Protect Your Rights

In any DUI case, the facts of the case are controlling.  Choosing an experienced defense attorney who understands this and has the time and resources to examine and apply the appropriate facts is crucial.  The lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney are here to help and will provide you, and your case, with the attention it deserves.   

If Your, Or A Loved One’s, Case Involves Any Of These Aggravated Circumstances, Call The San Diego Dui Attorney At 619-535-7150 And Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation With An Experienced Dui Law Firm.