Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a relatively common criminal offense in New Jersey, with people getting arrested every day across the state for driving under the influence. A portion of the individuals who wind up arrested and charged with impaired driving offenses will face aggravated DWI charges.
Aggravated offenses mean that there are complicating factors that make the offense more serious than a standard DWI charge. An aggravated DWI involves special circumstances that make it particularly dangerous. Aggravated DWI charges carry increased penalties and can have a stronger impact than standard DWI charges during a background check.
What conditions aggravate standard impaired driving charges?
Standard DWI charges are misdemeanor offenses. However, aggravated DWI charges carry potentially higher penalties for the drivers involved. Only certain situations give the courts reason to bring aggravated DWI charges against a driver, but those circumstances can vary drastically.
The circumstances can include being super drunk. Anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% can wind up facing DWI charges. However, those who get caught driving with a BAC of 0.15% or higher can face aggravated DWI charges based on their BAC alone. Some judges may allow prosecutors to bring aggravated DWI charges for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations as low as 0.10%.
Those who have multiple previous DWI convictions may also be vulnerable, as are those accused of causing an accident, harming someone else, driving while impaired in a school zone, driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, driving with a minor in the vehicle or breaking traffic laws while driving under the influence. Speeding, going the wrong way on a one-way street, racing or reckless driving could all result in aggravated DWI charges.
What are the increased penalties for aggravated DWI?
The exact penalties you face are going to depend on the unique circumstances of your situation. For example, you may face additional charges if a collision resulted where there was property damage or people got hurt or killed.
The number of previous impaired driving offenses on your record will also impact the consequences. Because New Jersey does not have a specific aggravated DWI charge, a variety of different penalties can be possible. Judges may double fines and license suspension time frames for aggravated charges.
A judge's background will also influence whether they choose to hear aggravated charges against you. The many variables in play are the exact reason why consulting with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney may be the only way to figure out the right choice. Developing a defense strategy involves understanding the charges and potential consequences, which is something a lawyer can help you do.