Is an Aggravated DUI a Violent Crime?

Difference Between DUI and Aggravated DUI

While a DUI is certainly a serious situation that can have grave penalties, the penalties for an aggravated DUI is even worse. This is because when you are charged with an aggravated DUI, it means that you have committed another offense in addition to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving. This felony is called an aggravated DUI because of the “aggravating influences” going on at the time of the arrest.

In order to determine whether an aggravated DUI would be considered a violent crime, we can look to the decision of the Supreme Court in the landmark case for Leocal v. Ashcroft, No. 03-583 in November of 2004. During the case, the Court was faced with the appeal of Josue Leocal who pleaded guilty to DUI with injury. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) intended to have him deported as an alien convicted of an “aggravated felony” even though he had been a lawful permanent resident of 20 years.

As it applies to this case, the INS regulations defined an aggravated felony as a “crime of violence.” In other words, it was “an offense that has an element of the use of physical force against the person or property of another.” The Supreme Court later reversed the order, and in a unanimous decision, the Court stated that a DUI is not a crime of violence even if someone is injured during the crime. At the same time, the Supreme Court determined that a deportable crime of violence requires “a higher mens rea [mental state] than the merely accidental or negligent conduct involved in a DUI offense.”

What Are the Penalties for a DUI?

The penalties for a DUI vary state by state. In California, a first DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor, not a violent crime. Keep in mind that because an aggravated DUI is a felony, it can result in more penalties, longer prison time, larger fines, and larger suspensions. Driving under the influence certainly has its consequences, and in California, you can face the following penalties:

  • Fines

For a first DUI offense, you can typically be charged between $390 and $1000 in fines, plus a variety of “penalty assessments” that can contribute to the total amount. When it is all said in done, you might end up paying a few thousand dollars for your DUI, but a criminal defense lawyer can help keep your fines as low as possible.

  • Jailtime

Even for a first offense, it is not out of the question to receive between 48 hours to 6 months in jail. Typically, though, the judge will order probation, which does not entail jail time. If you are placed on probation for a DUI, it is common to have mandated check-ins with a probation officer. The probation officer might come to your house to perform a breath-testing device, or they might conduct surprise visitations where they will check your alcohol levels. Some DUI offenders receive a three-year informal probation, but it can be as long as five years. It might consist of a three-month DUI school with 30 hours of classes. If you had a BAC of .20% or higher, the program could be nine months long and involve 60 hours of classes. The penalties will vary on a case-by-case basis, but your criminal defense attorney can present your case in the best light possible.

  • Suspended license

Even a first DUI conviction typically requires a six-month license suspension, as well as a four-month administrative suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the driver had a BAC of .08% or more. If the driver refused BAC testing, their suspension might be one year. It is important to note that first offenders can typically apply for a restricted license for driving to and from essential places like work and school. This is an option that your criminal defense lawyer can help you negotiate, and the team will also work to produce the most favorable outcome for your case in any way possible.

If you would like to learn more about how a criminal defense attorney can provide legal support throughout your DUI case, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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