What do Courts Consider During DUI Sentencing?
For those convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), facing the criminal justice system can be a frightening and incredibly stressful experience. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the penalties you might face.
To that end, it’s important you understand how courts approach DUI sentencing in California. Generally, judges look at a number of factors, commonly referred to as “grossly aggravating,” “aggravating” and “mitigating” factors. As an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney, I can provide you with some crucial information and context into what each of these factors means.Grossly Aggravating Factors
If a judge believes grossly aggravating factors were involved in your DUI arrest, you’re likely to face the harshest penalties. The following are some examples:
- A prior conviction for a DUI-related offense (for a judge to considerthis conviction grossly aggravating, it must have happened withinseven years of the current offense);
- Driving with a revoked license at the time of DUI arrest;
- The DUI arrest led to someone else suffering a serious injury or death; and
- You were drunk driving with a child under the age of 18 or a person with a mental or physical disability.
If a judge decides that a grossly aggravating factor was present in your case, you are likely to face jail or prison time, along with fines, probation and a suspended driver’s license after your release.Aggravating Factors
Although less serious than grossly aggravating factors, a judge can still hand down serious penalties if he or she finds that aggravating factors were present in your DUI arrest. However, the state must be able to prove the existence of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt. The following are a few examples of standard aggravating factors:
- An extremely high blood alcohol content (.15 percent or more);
- Particularly reckless, aggressive or dangerous driving;
- Driving with a revoked license;
- Two or more previous convictions of motor vehicle offenses that resulted in at least three points assigned to your license or in a revocation of your license (if those convictions occurred within five years of the current offense);
- Conviction of speeding to elude officers;
- Conviction of driving more than 30 MPH over the speed limit; and
- Illegally passing a school bus.
If a judge finds that were no aggravating factors present, he or she may look at whether there were mitigating factors involved. Here are some examples:
- A slight impairment solely from alcohol, with a BAC level not exceeding 0.09 percent;
- A record of safe driving;
- You were following all other rules of the road at the time of the offense;
- Voluntarily submitting a substance abuse assessment and enrolling in a recommended treatment program; and
- You were impaired due to a legal prescribed drug for a medical condition, with the amount of the drug taken within the prescribed dosage.
With the help of a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, you can address all of these factors as part of your defense strategy. Be sure to consult a skilled lawyer immediately after you find out you will be facing DUI charges.Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation With Our Top Criminal Defense Lawyers
The attorneys at The Omofoma Law Firm are experienced DUI lawyers who can help you fight your charges. As top criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, including Huntington Park, Alhambra and Monterey Park.
We are available 24/7 to provide you with a free case evaluation. Give us a call at (213) 455-4050.