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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

What Is Aggravated DUI: Know the Legal Rights

Aggravated DUI (driving under the influence) is a criminal charge given to someone who drives while drunk and operates a vehicle in a way that endangers others. This DUI is usually considered more severe than standard DUIs because of the ways it endangers others. If people get arrested for an aggravated DUI, it can have severe consequences on their life.

Moreover, if a driver faces this type of charge, it's essential to understand their rights and the processes involved with an aggravated DUI case. This article covers everything drivers need to know about aggravated DUIs, including defense strategies and possible outcomes based on their situation.

What Is Aggravated DUI?

What Is Aggravated DUI?

An aggravated DUI means that the driver was drunk, was driving recklessly, and had an extremely high BAC level. These cases are often chargeable with other crimes, such as vehicular manslaughter or hit-and-run. While some states have specific laws outlining what is and isn't an aggravated DUI, others leave this to the arresting officer's discretion.

Standard DUI Vs. Aggravated DUI

The main difference between an aggravated DUI and a standard DUI is that an aggravated one is usually more serious than a standard one in terms of the following:

  • The driver's BAC level.

  • Actions that a driver made behind the wheel.

  • Standard DUIs happen when a driver has a significant BAC level or drives dangerously but does not kill or injure anyone.

On the other hand, an Aggravated DUI is charged when a driver kills or injures someone while intoxicated.

Penalties for an Aggravated DUI

The penalties for an aggravated DUI can vary greatly depending on the situation. Below are the most common penalties for this type of case:

Jail Time

Most states require some jail time for a first offense, with the length of the sentence usually increasing with each subsequent DUI.


A fine is usually mandatory for an aggravated DUI and can amount to thousands of dollars.

Ignition Interlock

An ignition interlock device (IID) is usually mandatory for an aggravated case, and people may have to pay for it.

Driving Restrictions

Some states limit how long a DUI license suspension is. In Texas, you can expect suspensions of up to a year.

Prosecution Strategies for an Aggravated DUI

There are two ways that a prosecutor may go after an aggravated DUI charge: through the standard process or a vehicular homicide charge. While most states have a specific aggravated DUI charge, others lump multiple offenses into one law.

  • Standard Process: The prosecutor will try to show that driver's high BAC level, reckless driving, and other actions behind the wheel were enough to warrant a DUI charge.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charge: A prosecutor may also try to prove that the driver's actions behind the wheel led to the death of another person. This offense will almost always require a BAC over 0.10% and may include additional penalties for causing death or serious injury.

If the driver's BAC is over 0.08% but under 0.10%, and they don't have any reckless driving charges (such as excessive speeding or driving off the road), they may face a standard DUI charge.

Defending Against an Aggravated DUI

The best defense against an aggravated DUI charge is to refute the prosecutor's facts. This justification means challenging the officer's facts and evidence against them. Below are a few common defense strategies:

  • Factual dispute

  • Mistaken identity

  • Legal BAC limit

  • No reckless driving

  • Lack of causation

  • No death or injury

As with any criminal defense, the prosecutor's best bet is to hire an attorney as soon as possible, so they can start investigating their case and building a justification.

Mitigating and Aggravating Factors in Drunk Driving Charges

A DUI charge is a simple misdemeanor, with punishments including fines and a driver's license loss. The difference between the two charges comes down to the level of recklessness or "negligence" exhibited by the driver. If they are found guilty of the felony DUI drunk driving offense, there are risk of jail time, fines, and license suspension.

Types of Aggravating Influences Leading to an Aggravated DUI Charge

The decision will consider the driver's blood alcohol level. Blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or more is a "flagrant disregard for the safety of others" by law. If the driver's BAC is 0.08 or above, and they are impaired, it is still a felony.

Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and other classic intoxication symptoms will also affect the outcome. Furthermore, if the driver's speech is thick, they are impaired, or the driver has red, watery eyes, they are likely under the influence of cannabis. This condition is not as dangerous as alcohol, but judges will consider it.

Aggravating Circumstances in a Texas DWI

Imagine there was an accident, injury, or death. If a drunk driver caused the accident and someone was injured. Here, if there are three or more DUIs on the driver's record, or a minor was in the car, and the driver was on probation for a previous DUI conviction, this will be looked at if the driver's BAC is above 0.15.

DWI vs. Aggravated DWI

The Difference Between a DWI and an Aggravated DWI

An aggravated DWI is a felony, and the punishments are much more severe. The critical difference is that an aggravated DWI involves more serious criteria than DUIs without upsetting circumstances. A person gets an aggravated DWI if they are over twice the legal limit, if an accident, injury, or death happens, or if someone gets hurt due to the accident.

While a simple DUI will result in a few fines and a permanent loss of their driver's license, an aggravated DWI can result in jail time, a fine of as much as $10,000, and up to 20 years in prison. However, a driver should immediately consult an expert criminal defense attorney if they face charges.

An attorney can help the driver to understand the charges against them, determine if any defenses may apply to their case, and develop a strategy for defending themselves against these charges.


An aggravated DUI charge is serious, but it doesn't have to be permanent. A driver can hire a competent DUI attorney who will tirelessly help them through this difficult time.

The prosecutor's attorney may be able to reduce charges, get them a shorter sentence than expected, or even get their charges dropped. It's essential to know a person's rights and how the process works so that they can make the most of the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about aggravated DUIs:

What Is an Aggravated DWI in Texas?

A DWI, or driving while intoxicated, is a severe crime in Texas, with criminal and administrative penalties, including fines, loss of driving privileges, and the potential to serve mandatory jail time.

The police officer can arrest a driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher for DWI. A driver might also be charged with DWI if drugs or another medical condition impairs them. The penalties for a first-time DWI conviction are:

  • A fine of $250 to $2000.

  • Six months of loss of driving privileges.

  • One day to two years in jail.

Regardless, if someone has a bodily injury or is killed due to a drunk driver, the penalties are much harsher. A person who caused an accident resulting in the severe injury or death of another could face a third-degree felony charge, which could lead to a 10-year prison sentence.

Is a Driver Required to Take a Breath or Blood Test?

The state of Texas has a law on implied consent. This law states that, if a driver gets arrested for DWI, they must consent to a chemical or blood test to ascertain the level of alcohol in their blood. Many people may not realize just how common DUI arrests may be. If anyone declines the test, the court may use it against them for a maximum DUI sentence, and it can suspend their license for 180 days.

How Quickly Should Someone Get a Defense Lawyer?

Whenever a driver wants to maintain their license, they should get in contact a DWI law firm in Tarrant County TX as quickly as possible. The sooner they request a hearing, the better; if they want to keep their driver's license, they should do it within 15 days of their DWI arrest. When a driver fails to file a hearing, they will lose the opportunity to argue for the right to keep their license.

Will Their Driver's License Be Automatically Suspended?

Their behavior will determine the license suspension following the arrest. If a driver does not request a hearing within 15 days of being arrested, or if their blood alcohol content is more than 0.08 percent, then their license will be suspended.

Can Someone Get a Temporary Driver's license for Work If the Court Takes Their License Away?

This decision, once again, depends on their prior criminal history and driving record. In most circumstances, they will be able to acquire an Occupational Driver's License, allowing them to go to work with their motor vehicle and return home.

Will the Driver Face Jail Time If This Is Their First DWI?

If this is their first criminal offense involving alcohol, they will probably avoid jail time. Nonetheless, this depends on the situation's specifics and the legal limit of blood alcohol content.

What Are the Typical Consequences for a First-time Dwi Offender?

The typical first-time penalties include a penalty of up to $2,000 and a sentence of under 72 hours but no more than 180 days in jail. However, if it's their first offense, a misdemeanor DUI, they might not have to go to jail.


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